America’s Love For Guns Is Directly Related To America’s Love for Racism

America isn’t the only country with a racist past. We are however the only (first world) country to have both a racist past and a deep, abiding love for guns and gun culture. America didn’t have to succumb to racism at its birth; that was a choice we made – an economic choice. But for slavery – and the free (because stolen) labor it provided to the cotton, tobacco and sugar cane businesses among others – the South would never have risen to begin with. Or, if they had, it would have been because they’d figured out a way to both make a profit and pay for the labor needed to bring their products to market. Instead, everyone involved succumbed to greed and their worst instincts. Our founders wrote down “All men are created equal” but they meant something else entirely: only white, Christian, land-owning men are equal. Everyone else is there for the white, Christian, land-owning men to exploit.

Slaves and slavery were so essential to the Southern economy that the slavers organized patrols to hunt down and capture escaped slaves. Policing in America originated with these “slave patrols” and that “people as property” mentality remains deeply embedded in how America thinks about (and hires) cops. Do we need any more evidence that America’s police departments are over-stocked with racists who see their job more as zoo keeping than protecting and serving? Our founders had the gall to think of slaves (all Black people, really) as “three-fifths of a man” (and that for political reasons!) When a white cop pulls out their weapon and aims it at an unarmed Black person, to them, that Black person is less of a person than they are and that’s why shooting and killing them is so easy.

But then, guns make killing easy because that’s what they’re designed to do: kill. Every gun is engineered from the ground up to send a piece of hot metal flying through the air – at speed – toward a live target, the goal being to kill it. You can’t send a piece of hot metal flying at someone without thinking it could kill them; death is baked into it. To think otherwise is a lie. While people who aspire to responsibly own a death machine might valiantly try to “be responsible”, the fact is, accidents happen. Unintended consequences happen. Children get ahold of their parents’ unsecured weapons all the time here in America. Don’t believe me? Google it, why don’tcha. Then prepare to spend some time reading.

Nancy Lanza was an avid gun owner and – if you’d have asked her – a responsible gun owner, too. That is, she was a responsible gun owner until the morning of December 14, 2012 when her son Adam murdered her with one of her own legally purchased firearms then headed to Sandy Hook Elementary School. The thing is, guns aren’t designed to sit in gun lockers. It’s like how cars aren’t designed to be driven by drunk people. But, when guns get out of their lockers – or drunk people drive – that’s when the tires hit the road – and the drunk driver kills someone. How responsible is a gun owner when their death machine is in their hands – or the hands of others? In America, 329 people are injured by firearms every single day. In 2019, according to UC Davis Health, 39,707 people died because their life intersected with a gun. That’s a hell of a lot of irresponsible gun ownership, no?

The “responsible gun owner” argument is that THEY aren’t like that. THEY are different, ya see. They’re “responsible”. Until they aren’t. Until something unexpected happens as it did yesterday when 15 year old Ethan Crumbley took the semi-automatic 9 mm Sig Sauer handgun his dad had purchased a few days before to school – where Ethan was already in trouble for “concerning classroom behavior”. We don’t know if Ethan’s parents were ever “responsible gun owners”, but they definitely failed that test in the end.

Ya see, that’s the problem for all of us out here who DON’T own death machines. We have to rely on the competence, good intentions and genuine “responsible-ness” of everyone who owns a gun. Gun non-owners won’t know ahead of time which gun owners are failing to be responsible. We never got a head’s up that James Holmes was going to the movies on July 20, 2012 at the Century 16 movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Was James ever a responsible gun owner? Don’t know. But, if he ever was, he wasn’t that night when he killed twelve people. 70 others were injured, 58 from gunfire. Same token, we don’t know if Omar Mateen was ever a “responsible gun owner” before he killed 49 people and injured 53 more at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL which he shot up on June 12, 2016.

While racism itself isn’t behind most of our mass shootings – male dysfunction is – the easy availability of death machines across America makes it easy for every male with personality flaws and anger issues to use a gun as part of their “therapy”. The NRA seems to approve of its members using the second amendment to resolve all disputes. As Kyle Rittenhouse proved, you can even cry “self defense!” when shooting unarmed people because you feel “threatened” by them.

Want to know just how racist America is? Imagine, if you will, what would have happened to AR-15-toting Kyle Rittenhouse if he had been Black instead of privileged white. Think the cops there that night in Kenosha would have waved at Kyle and waved him through? Think all the armed racists there to threaten the Black Lives Matter protestors would have seen Black Kyle as one of their own? Puh-leeze! If Kyle Rittenhouse was black, they would have had to clean up what was left of him with a hose.

America’s gun lovers insist they need guns to protect them from an overzealous government. To call that horse shit is a kindness it doesn’t deserve. It’s right wing bullshit kabuki. It’s a lie. Right wing gun lovers do not fear the government; they just want it out of their way. Right wing gun lovers – almost entirely white – see themselves as surrounded. A diversifying America terrifies them because they refuse to share power. And the people they refuse to share power with is everyone not them – not white. And, to make their point of just how determined they are? They “open carry” their intentions.

No one at a supermarket is going to attack them. No one ever was going to. They gun owner knows that. The point of the exercise isn’t self-defense, it’s intimidation. It’s white people trying to impress everyone else that they – a gun owner – can hurt them bigger and better than the person without the gun can hurt the gun owner. No part of that thinking is even remotely “responsible”. But it is deeply racist.

Not every gun owner is a racist, but – count on it – every racist needs a gun to feel complete. They need a gun to do what they personally can’t – force people they don’t like to do what they want (including die).

A guns is to a racist what a good argument is to anyone else. The gun IS the racist’s argument.

The ONLY Reason Donald Trump’s “Running For POTUS In 2024 Is Because “MONEY”

It boggles our already overly-boggled minds that Donald Trump remains part of our national conversation. Hey, didn’t that bloated orange rapist LOSE the last election? In point of fact, Trump lost both elections he ran in. You can’t cheat by teaming with Russia to win in any way, shape or form you can and then claim that you “won” legitimately. Those two things are mutually exclusive propositions. Trump never expected to win in 2016 (and was shocked that he didn’t “win” in 2020 by “other means” including insurrection). Becoming POTUS was never the point going in — not for Trump. Making a lot of money was the point. The GOP hitched their treason wagon to Trump’s because, well, by the time the Republican Party nominated Trump in 2016, they were already deep into having committed treason.

Fact: on June 25, 2016, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a meeting of GOP leaders and said — upon entering (it was recorded and the recording played for Washington Post Reporter Adam Entous) — “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!” An American president on a foreign payroll? Here on Planet Earth, that should have set off alarm bells and raised every red flag available for the GOP. It didn’t even raise red flags in the room. No one contradicted McCarthy. No one challenged him even. No one doubted it. In fact, not only was Trump’s corruption common knowledge, it was so well known or suspected that it made the room uncomfortable. There was nervous laughter – which was what prompted McCarthy’s “Swear to God!” Kevin believed Trump was compromised. He wanted everyone else there to know what he knew if they didn’t already.

“Putin pays Trump”. That’s the beginning and the end of the whole story. Because Trump is such a greedy scumbag, he draws zero distinction between legitimate and illegitimate ways to make money. Legal? Illegal? These are technicalities at best. For criminals like Trump, the real question is always “getting caught” versus “getting away with it” and since guys like Trump always get away with it? They view getting caught as a bridge they’ll blow up later. That explains Trump. It also explains the GOP. This is not a complicated story (despite all its moving parts). This is about the Republican Party, facing demographic obliteration because of increasing diversification across America, choosing to collaborate with Russia in order to deny American voters THEIR choice for America’s future.

By the time the GOP committed to merging their goals with Trump’s (they want permanent minority rule), Russia had already flooded them with cash and kompromat. So long as the Trump-Russia partnership was producing good results like tax breaks for the rich? The Republican Party had no issue whatsoever. Treason was profitable! But the second the Democrats took the House in 2018, their reinstatement of real oversight began to unravel everything that Trump and his co-conspirators to commit election fraud, obstruction of justice and treason had wrought. Why are Republicans so loyal to Trump? Because they’re all traitors! Not hyperbolic traitors, real, honest-go-goodness traitors!

Donald Trump has no loyalty to anyone other than Donald Trump. The only loyalty he feels toward Putin is the loyalty anyone might feel while their testicles are being held tightly by someone else – who keeps threatening to crush them. Trump knows that the second these facts begin to fall to earth – no longer speculation but verifiable – he will be done. Even Trump won’t get away with how utterly he’s betrayed America. Once Trump’s co-conspirators begin turning on each other — as some already are? It won’t stop until they’ve pretty much ratted out the whole stinking enterprise.

All the time Trump was POTUS, he was “protected” by that bullshit Department of Justice rule (not a law, a RULE) that said a sitting POTUS could not be indicted. Trump craves that protection again. He needs it if he’s going to survive what’s about to happen. Even if Merrick Garland came a crapper and never indicted Trump for anything, there’s still a strong likelihood that Georgia will indict Trump for election interference and New York will indict him for tax fraud. Once those trials begin – once the dirt begins to explode into the light – it will cause the floodgates to open wide. We will be inundated with even more Trumpian awfulness.

And, meanwhile, Trump will continue to rake in the cash because he’s a potential nominee running for POTUS in 2024. Trump has no desire to be “president” again. He has every desire to get away with every crime he’s committed. He desperately wants to keep the cash flow flowing from the rubes and suckers who think he’s God. If Trump was any kind of a businessman, he’d pour his efforts into his businesses. But that was never how it worked at TrumpCo. Trump can’t count on his businesses to keep him and his crime family afloat, he needs suckers. He needs an active presidential campaign to legitimize his illegitimate behavior.

Everyone Has Their Point Of View But Not Every Point Of View “Has A Point”

Does a raging, racist a-hole have a point? We know they have a point of view; they’re happy as hell braying it. But do these guys have a point to make? Do they? Is their racist, ignorant point really one we should take seriously?

Consider the professional criminal. He knows what he’s doing is completely against the law yet breaks the law anyway. The possibility of punishment is just part of the cost of doing criminal business. As the professional criminal — let’s say he’s a car thief with his eyes on your car — deliberately commits a crime (stealing your car) — he has a point of view in this scenario. So do you — now, a car thief’s victim. But the only point the car thief is making here is that your possession can be his. It’s a bully’s way of thinking. Your point of view is a crime victim’s. From the rule of law’s point of view, a wrong has been done you. The rule of law then has a “good point” to make here. Justice must be done. You, the crime victim, also have a “good point”. The injustice was done to you and that injustice needs to be fixed in whatever way we can. As for the perp? He’s the odd man out. The only one here who’s “point” was “bad”. In a court of law? His point describes a criminal.

That’s why criminals never argue the truth — the actual “why they did what they did” because that would equal a confession: “I wanted what wasn’t mine and so I took it.” That is, in fact, a thief’s point. Not their point of view, their point. The core “why” of why they did what they did.

How the hell did we get to a place where any point of view — regardless of how bad (meaning counter productive, incorrect or just plain illegal) — can be held up as being equally valid as a good point of view? The answer’s the same as why our news media used to present climate science and climate denial as equally valid points. Our news media all did that but no one did it with less self awareness and more counter productivity than our TV news media. At some point, when this is far enough in our rearview mirror that democracy can breathe a little more easily, we will have to give the news media its report card. A few will have passed the course with honors. But only a few. The overwhelming majority of American journalists failed America completely because they drank the “both sides do it” Kool Aid.

“Both sides do it” insists that journalists be completely “neutral”. It’s not for them to judge anything. If the person in front of them is a cannibal, it’s not for the “both sides do it” journalist to judge the cannibal for being a cannibal or cannibalism in general since, if that’s the cannibal’s thing, it must be valid because every point of view is “valid”. The eater’s point of view has the same “weight” as the to-be-eaten’s. The cannibal’s point is as valid as his dinner’s. In a world where cannibalism was accepted, I guess that would mean something. But, we don’t feel that way about cannibalism. It may have a point of view but we refuse to, um, swallow it.

The press is quite clear on what the Republican Party are doing to America. Between the breaking news (that’s always breaking) and the talking heads with their hair very much on fire, the point gets made over and over again: the Republicans are no longer interested in democracy because democracy is no longer interested in them or their ideas. The Republicans have a political problem on their hands that the Democrats don’t. Having become almost exclusively a white grievance party, the Republican agenda is focused on retaining power that a rapidly diversifying America is actively voting away from them. E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one) is not a political cause, it’s a cultural safe space. It is the real promise of “All men are created equal” (so long as we understand that “all men” means literally “everyone”).

“Both sides do it” journalism insists that since Republicans do everything for political reasons, Democrats must therefore do everything for political reasons, too. So, when a Republican suppresses a Democratic voter’s ability to vote, the thinking goes, both the vote suppressing Republican and the suppressed Democratic voter are BOTH behaving politically. That is utter bullshit. The Republican is openly violating the Democrat’s Constitutional right to vote. They’re committing a literal crime albeit for a political purpose. It’s a crime all the same.

The Democrat here is NOT behaving politically regardless of what “both sides do it:” journalism says. Just like the car thief’s victim isn’t behaving like a criminal when they go to the police, neither is the suppressed democratic voter acting politically when they report the crime being committed against them. But, because our news media assumes both sides do everything for the very same reasons, they fail to see the Republicans’ actions as criminal (since, perversely, the Democrats’ reaction isn’t!) In this instance, they’re flipping “both sides do it” back onto itself. If the Democrats aren’t criminals then neither are the Republicans.

Stone cold fact: not every point of view has a point. Let’s tweak that to “not every point of view has a VALID point”. And, when our news media — towing the “both sides do it” line — gives validity and credence to points of view undeserving of that validity, they empower bullshit and give bullshit the very real potential to completely overwhelm Truth. That’s how you get a Nazi Germany. A North Korea. A Vladimir Putin.

A Donald Trump and the entire Republican Party.

Why Does The Republican Party Always Stand On The Wrong Side Of Everything?

Photos show violent clashes as Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol

Imagine rooting for a pathogen to win because more dead people — even if they’re you — equals “winning” though “winning what” isn’t exactly clear. Why does “owning the libs” mean so much to right wingers, conservatives and Trumpanistas? Why does it mean more than life itself? Is being a raging asshole really that satisfying or is sharing power democratically simply beyond the pale? Apparently that’s a yes to both. I can’t imagine myself walking in lock step with a bunch of other Jewish people while we all shout “White people will not replace us!” the way white supremacists did at Charlottesville shouting about how Jews would not replace them. Replace them? Doing what? Being them? What does that mean? How little do you think of yourself that abstract humans can step in and disappear you so easily? Who the hell even “thinks” like this?

Oh, right… Republicans, Trumpublicans, Trumpanistas and right wingers in general. They never seem to operate from a place of optimism or hope. They don’t view the future expectantly. Rather, they see the future as a place to fear: “beyond here there be dragons!” Those dragons are Black and brown people. Women with political power and the will to use it. LGBTQ people who are simply trying to find a little peace inside their heads, inside their body chemistry. And then there’s the biggest dragon of all: shared political power. That’s like water to the Wicked Witch Of The West. Sharing political power would melt conservatives. Well, it would melt their political power into virtually nothing because, here in America, that conservatism is driven by white hegemony.

What do Republicans — self-avowed “conservatives” — want to “conserve” if not white hegemony? Anything less would, eventually, lead to the very diversity conservatives fear. The conservative game plan therefore is to stretch out that “eventually” for as long a period as possible. If they can — by screwing democracy — turn that “eventually” into “never”? Well, why wouldn’t a conservative choose that — considering the alternative? I’m just saying — the conservative position here isn’t hard to see or hard to understand. If we put ourselves in their shoes and see the world through their terrified eyes, we’d get it. We’d get what they feel, why they feel and how they feel.

That doesn’t mean we’d agree with their feelings however. That’s the problem, ya see. Conservatives are running entirely off their feelings and never about facts. And the one feeling driving the whole crazy shit show is fear. Conservativism is the uber lizard brain on fire. All it can think of is “stop what’s happening by whatever means possible”. “What’s happening” is forward progress.

What’s happening is fairness. What’s happening is America finally starting to live up to its full potential. The white, Christian, land-and-human-owning men who wrote up America’s founding documents had a great idea. That doesn’t mean they executed that great idea correctly. They didn’t. For starters, they didn’t really mean “All men are created equal”, they only meant white, Christian, land-owning men just like them were “equal”. In “Jeopardy”, that would count as an incomplete answer. You lose. America nearly did because white, Christian, land-owning men are not what makes America exceptional. “E Pluribus Unum” makes America exceptional. Out of many, one. THAT is the engine for American greatness. Progressivism fuels that engine because progressivism recognizes that the more Americans participate in this, the greatest experiment ever in human self government, the better the experiment gets.

Conservatism believes the exact opposite to be true: that the less Americans participate, the better. What they mean is “the more that THEY are the ONLY Americans participating in American democracy, the better”.

Spoiler alert: that ain’t how democracy works. It’s how authoritarianism and facism work.

Why do Republicans all stand on the wrong side of history? Because history, in the end, is made up of human progress. As much as conservative white Americans want to believe that THEY are the entire point of democracy, they’re not. Democracy is the point of democracy and the more democracy, the better. We know from experience how skewed democracy (the Electoral College for example or the structure of the US Senate) skews elections away from the will of the majority and toward a willful minority. In fact, we’ve gotten to see all the myriad ways conservatives have built brakes into the system — not because they want to make democracy better but because they want to make democracy less efficient. Less democratic.

If Republicans could, they’d end the American experiment right here, right now. They have zero interest in being a democratic republic if that means they have no control over it; to them, having a hundred percent control is the only alternative to having less than a hundred percent. It’s all v nothing and they want all.

Those are the stakes. That’s why Republicans are willing to stand alongside a pathogen if the pathogen will help get them what they want: permanent minority rule. By the same token, Republicans are willing to stand alongside treason and traitors to get what they want. That’s what made Vladimir Putin’s bet on the GOP such a sure thing. He understood how craven and corrupt they all were. He understood how hook them all so deeply they’d do whatever he told them to. He understood that he could have them betray America in the open — without America really questioning them. Example: we need to know what promises the “Prostrate Eight” — Senators Richard Shelby (AL.), Steve Daines (MT), John Hoeven (ND), John Neely Kennedy (LA), Jerry Moran (KS.), John Thune (SD) and Ron Johnson (R-WI), plus Rep. Kay Granger (TX.) made over dinner in Moscow July 4, 2018. While the rest of America celebrated our independence from outside interference, what were these traitors promising their Russian masters between the ice cold vodka shots and the caviar?

The GOP isn’t just standing on the wrong side of history. They’re standing on the wrong side of justice. On the wrong side of patriotism. On the wrong side of human decency. On the wrong side of logic and even their own self-interest. On the wrong side of literally everything.

Is Waiting For Merrick Garland To Act Going To Be Like “Waiting For Godot”?

We seem to be experiencing what Yogi Berra called “deja vu all over again”. For five years now, Donald Trump has committed crimes out in the open. He’s been as overt a traitor as a traitor could be. What else would one call Trump’s relationship with Putin except treasonous? How much more obvious does it have to be? At a July 2016 news conference at his Doral property in Florida, Trump said: “Russia, if you’re listening — I hope you are able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press. Let’s see if that happens.” Mere hours later, Russia responded — and made it happen. Keep in mind, this is the same Donald Trump that every GOP leader KNEW was compromised by Russia. On June 25, 2016, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy entered a room in Washington, DC where the GOP leadership was meeting and said out loud (it was recorded): “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!” No one in that room questioned Kevin. No one doubted him either. That Trump was compromised by Russia seems to have been general knowledge. Everyone in the room agreed with then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s plan to keep their terrible secret “in the family”.

This really has been about treason all along. The GOP was so determined to impose permanent minority rule upon America – no matter how they did it – that they were/are even willing to commit treason in order to do it. These are all or nothing stakes. Once you commit treason? There is no going back. How on earth can anyone trust these pirates ever again (not that we had any business trusting them in the first place)? We understood what it meant when Lil Jeff Sessions ran the DoJ — that it was going to do only what that racist elf wanted. When Bill Barr’s name first came up as Lil Jeff’s eventual replacement, the news media played their “he’s an institutionalist!” card, insisting that this meant the adults in the room were in control.

Alas, there are no adults in the Republican room. There are only miscreants and angry white men. Only racists, misogynists and bigots. Authoritarians, fascists and feckless fools — useful idiots all. As we all know, had Kyle Rittenhouse been Black instead of privileged white, he would never have walked away from the scene, having shot three people. Between the racist cops and the actual racists, a Black Kyle would have been raked with so much gunfire that they’d have had to use a bucket and mop to clean up what was left of him. The Rittenhouse verdict empowered the right wing yahoos to shoot first and then concoct their “I was defending myself” defense later. It undermines the legitimacy of a legitimate self defense defense. But then, no one’s ever accused anti-democratic racists of thinking big.

Merrick Garland has insisted all along that he intends to follow the rule of law. And, in his defense, we must acknowledge that the country is experiencing something extraordinary. White power has declared culture war on the rest of us because the idea of sharing power with us – especially if we represent the majority – is simply untenable. But, something else happened back in 2016 that we have not addressed yet. Our free and fair election got hijacked. In place of a free and fair election, we got Russia’s relentless, multi-faceted meddling. Don’t forget: Trump’s campaign chair, Paul Manafort, handed Konstantin Kilimnik and Oleg Deripaska (two Russian intelligence officers and “Friends Of Putin”) the proprietary polling data for Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin that Russian intelligence repurposed and redirected back at us. Some of that work went to convincing Black Democratic voters to stay home – suggesting that Hillary Clinton was a racist on the down low. If just ONE Democratic voter succumbed (it’s easy enough to find out — all we have to do is ask them), that’s illegal. Not “little illegal”, big, “GIANT illegal”.

It is flat out against the law to win an American election by colluding with Russia (or any foreign government). Do that – collude to win – and you did not win. Donald Trump colluded with Russia in multiple ways in order to win. Problem is, we refused to acknowledge that collusion even as he was doing it! “Hey, Russia! — if you’re listening!” is pretty direct. And when Russia literally responded in mere hours? There are myriad reasons why Republicans don’t want to dig too deeply. And when deep digging IS going on around them? Republicans do everything in their power either to neutralize that digging or to undermine its integrity or the public’s faith in its integrity.

Bill Barr flattened the Mueller Report — telling America it concluded one thing (there’s no “there” there) when, in fact, there was plenty of there there. Bill Barr oversaw the murder of Jeffrey Epstein (probably not for anyone else than his dear old dad) and the purposeful politicization of the DoJ. The Republicans deliberately slow walked Garland’s nomination — a way to buy time. For Republicans, the game now must rely on running out the clock to the 2022 mid terms. IF the GOP can (via gerrymandering and voter suppression) limit Democratic voting, they could indeed take back the House and Senate — killing all investigations dead while they finish gutting every bit of our democracy.

Is Merrick Garland dawdling? Is he hemming and hawing while the nation lurches toward authoritarianism? Is he being cavalier toward democracy? Is he giving the white guys way too much latitude simply because they’re white guys?

Or, is Merrick Garland getting every last bit of evidence he can before applying the rule of law to its biggest scofflaw ever: Donald J Trump? I still want to believe that Garland HAS set his sites on Trump (and the entire GOP) but that he knows he will get one shot here — and it needs to be the coup de grace and nothing but. If Garland’s DoJ does the right thing (applying the rule of law evenly as he’s sworn he would), he will set off a fire storm of angry, white backlash. It will definitely get ugly. But, the longer Garland and the DoJ wait to begin punishing insurrectionists, the harder it will be to punish them.

To not punish would be to invite the guilty to attempt another violent coup. That won’t be a matter of speculation, merely time and timing. We need that punishment to happen. That punishment is our “Godot”.

Samuel Becket was an amazing writer and his classic play “Waiting For Godot is deservedly a classic. Spoiler Alert! Godot never shows up. The two guys who spend the play “Waiting For Godot” will end the play still waiting. That’s the point. If the performance is good, by the very end of the play, the audience finds itself in the very same shoes as Gogo and Didi, the two main characters. Whatever relief may come from Godot’s finally arriving on site is negated by the fact that Godot never comes. Wait for him now and you’ll wait for him forever. It’s pure existentialism.

We’re still smarting from the fact that the Mueller Report flopped. It didn’t really; it only really flopped in the news media’s eyes because they can’t get out of their own damned way. When Bill Barr interpreted Mueller’s findings, the press were obligated to read the damned thing for themselves not buy Barr’s bullshit rehashing. But the news media accepted Barr’s take (why would he lie — even though he lied in the exact same way about Iran-Contra?) That’s because our news media ALWAYS accepts Republican explanations as legit even when clearly they’re not.

Yeah, it sucks watching Republicans continue to undermine our democratic institutions with impunity. It seems entirely counter-intuitive to do nothing. In “Waiting For Godot”, Didi and Gogo will be cursed to return again tomorrow to the same forlorn landscape (its one feature that leafless tree). It’s as if today never happened. And neither will tomorrow. We need our Godot – our Garland – to show up and show up ready for work. We need our Godot on stage right now.

There’s A HUGE Difference Between “Christians” And “Followers Of Jesus”

Question: How do you get from “Do unto others” to “Onward, Christian Soldier!”? The truth is you can’t. Even a humble atheist can “do unto others”. A Christian soldier? They do unto others before others can do unto them. That’s their idea of Jesus. In other words, they have no idea of Jesus or, whatever idea they do have of Jesus? That ain’t Jesus. I bet Jesus would be shocked (if he actually did pull off a second coming) by all the people claiming to follow him who, in fact, hate everything about him. Is there anything less Jesus-y than a horde of culture warrior Christians?

Jesus preached a simple, confident message that even an atheist can embrace, follow and find happiness in. How we got from there to, say, the Catholic church (or, even further afield, the Mormon church) is a story (and blog post) unto itself. But, that is what Christianity did — it turned a simple relationship between creator and created into a dogma-heavy obstacle course light on logic but heavy on complications. In Paul the Apostle’s defense, when you set out to found a new religion (as Paul did among the Gentiles), you have to do everything you can to cement your brand.

Paul was very definitely a Christian. As to was he a “follower of Jesus” — no, he wasn’t. Jesus, if anything, was an impediment to Paul because of his very Jewishness. Remember: the Christian movement in Jerusalem faltered because it wasn’t Christian, it was Jewish. Radical but radical Jewish. When the Romans finally sacked Jerusalem and banished all the Jews, the diaspora created was entirely Jewish. Paul meanwhile (about half the New Testament is Paul’s writing) spun his mythology further and further away from its Jewish roots and more toward something that he was inventing on the fly — a faith based entirely on “the death, resurrection, and lordship of Jesus.”

That, right there, is Paul’s brilliant innovation. It’s his true genius: he pitched a deity to the Gentiles that cared about them (polytheistic gods didn’t really care about humans the way Yahweh seemed to), who even produced a son tasked with dying for humanity’s benefit just so that they — like Jesus — could defeat death and live forever in a magical place called Heaven along with all their loved ones. That’s Christianity’s real sales pitch: believe in Jesus the way we tell you to (no questions asked) and we’ll “guarantee you” a happy eternal afterlife with your loved ones. Can the church really guarantee such a thing? Does that really matter? Of course not!

Death makes human beings irrational. We’ll cut any deal we can to try and get out of having to die. That is, some people will. To them, religion is a kind of ongoing negotiation with the universe. It’s a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card they’ll take with them to the grave where it will rot and fall apart just like they will. But, hey — why not cover that angle, right? The early Christian church slowly evolved a mythology based on a thousand years of Jewish messiah stories radically re-imagined for a Gentile audience (who didn’t care that it didn’t conformed to the original Jewish mythology since they had no knowledge of it).

Let’s be real: the Christian origin mythology is a hodgepodge of ideas that don’t add up (unless you accept all of its illogical premises). If Jesus’s whole purpose — the reason universe-creator Yahweh mates with a human virgin — is to fix the mess Eve made (according to the early church fathers, Eve daring to eat the apple and causing humanity’s fall from grace was humanity ‘s original sin). Plus — it’s by Jesus dying for humanity’s sins that God opens the door to eternal life. If Jesus never gets betrayed by Judas and never gets crucified and never dies for humanity ‘s sins then there is no resurrection.

If God created Jesus for this specific purpose then God (being all knowing) wouldn’t have zigged because Judas Iscariot zagged. God would not only have known and anticipated Judas, he’d have relied upon it — because that’s the trigger for everything else that follows. If Jesus, instead, lives to a ripe old age and dies in his bed surrounded by his loved ones then we’re not having this conversation. Judas isn’t a villain, damned for all time, he’s a story mechanism.

And, hey — blood libels are flat out stupid. It is stupid and offensive to use a poorly constructed story as a justification to hate Jews. But then Jews have never viewed the world as something to be converted into their way of thinking. Judaism is virtually non-dogmatic compared to Christianity. Yeah, sure — there are ten commandments. There are dietary laws out the wazoo and pretty much rules for everything. But Jews didn’t imagine a hell the way Christians did. There’s “Sheol” but that’s just a place where all dead people go. It was the equivalent of the Greeks’ “Hades”. And, while Jews imagined a few less than honorable divine creatures. There’s the “Dybbuk” — a malicious, possessing spirit usually associated with a dead person — but Dybbuk’s aren’t invented until the 16th century.

Jews simply don’t rely upon the heavy weight of eternal after-life punishment to motivate Jews to do anything — like follow the ten commandments. Being good is simply one’s obligation. In fact, every Jew is obligated by the core Jewish concept of “Tikkun Olam”. Every Jew is responsible for making the world a better place just for having been in it. How one accomplishes that? That’s up to you. But, once Paul and the early church organizers committed themselves to a whole after life mythology, they took it to its extremes. And the dogma piled higher and higher.

Followers of Jesus “do unto others” because that is what following Jesus actually entails. Paul and his church had no use for any sort of historical Jesus — so they quickly dispatched with that guy. Joshua ben Joseph vanished and Jesus rose in his place. Joshua ben Joseph was born lived his entire life and died a Jew (having spent his entire life preaching and teaching to Jews exclusively). If Paul could have sold the Jews in Jerusalem his version of Jesus, he wouldn’t have had to go outside Judaism. But he did — and one of the first things Paul’s new religion did was declare war on the old religion that rejected it.

It never mattered to the faithful if the mythology didn’t add up. The point of the exercise was defeating death! If the step-by-step includes hating Jews then the faithful will hate Jews because the prize is worth it.

Why does anyone take Jesus into their heart? It ain’t the same reason people succumb to a church’s song and dance. But then, all Jesus really promises his followers is a good way to live a life.

The church needs warm bodies to fill its empty space but also its coffers. It needs people willing to go along without questioning the church. It needs the “faithful”.

It needs “Christian soldiers”.

America Is Only Just Realizing It Has A “White Audacity” Problem

The Kyle Rittenhouse verdict — in every way — points to how completely off kilter America is. “Self defense” now means you can provoke others to violence by threatening them with your gun but it’s their problem because their fists scared you into shooting them. Somehow hands grabbing a gun defensively equals bringing a gun to a fistfight in the first place. Of course that doesn’t add up. White privilege never does. And white people know it never has to. That’s the luxury of only ever having to look to your feelings for justification (while every other group has to bring facts to the conversation). Knowing you can get away with anything, well, that will a person think they can do whatever they want however they want whenever they want. Kyle Rittenhouse stepped onto the “playing field” that night in Kenosha with every advantage one could have.

If Kyle had had a bit more melanin in his skin, he wouldn’t have left that street alive. A Black kid firing a military style semi-automatic weapon wildly in a crowd? They’d have had to clean up what was left of him with a mop and a bucket. Not only did Kyle Rittenhouse walk away from the murder scene, he got waved on repeatedly by the cops! And in the immediate aftermath? Did Kyle weep for what he had done? Hell, no! Kyle went out drinking (he’s only 17)! He celebrated what he had done because he’s white and whiteness seems to entitle white people to all kinds of things they really aren’t entitled to. And every time they express that entitlement? We are rocked by its audacity.

What do we mean by “white people”? Let’s ask them. They’re always happy to share who they think is white and who they look at as an other. Perversely, white people really do behave like Dr. Seuss’s sneetches. Well, like one of the two groups of sneetches. The story is a good lesson about racism. But it’s not a great lesson. It’s kinda flawed actually…

Star bellied sneetches feel superior to sneetches without stars. But then a conman shows up and sells the star-free sneetches a machine that puts stars on their bellies. Suddenly, there’s no difference between the two groups. That offends the star-bellied sneetches. Good thing the conman’s machine can also remove stars from bellies. Suddenly it’s hipper to be without a star. And so it goes, backwards and forwards. stars off then back on again until the sneetches literally run out of money. The con man drives off, every penny every sneetch had now his. In the story, the sneetches realize they’re all alike and always were. A fine message. But pretty unfair. The sneetches who started the story without stars didn’t create the initial problem. The star bellied sneetches did. If they never behave like they were superior, the con man never has a way to take advantage of them.

Even Dr. Seuss didn’t realize how systemic racism works. The star bellied sneetches start the story with everything but end up with nothing. The non-star bellied sneetches begin the story with nothing and end up with nothing. The only consolation they get is the star bellied sneetches contrition at the end. That might improve their situation going forward, but it fails to address a long, terrible history of abuse, disrespect and mistreatment. History does not disappear just because we want it to. It’s very easy for a group that’s never been persecuted to dismiss persecution’s ripple effects on persecution’s survivors and descendants. Take this to the bank: if the persecution shoe were on the other foot? We would not be having this conversation.

The pecking order among the descendants of white Europeans in America seems to put WASPS (white Anglo-Saxon Protestants) atop the pile. Northern Europeans — Scandinavians, Dutch, Germans, French and English seem to think of themselves as Europe’s best and brightest. The Spanish also thought of themselves as players — and they absolutely were (ask any Native American population they encountered and decimated). But, the English more than any other group saw themselves and their ways as superior. More importantly, they saw their commercial interests as superior.

Every single European venture to North America after the Vikings’ brief sojourn in at L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland in 1021 AD had one organizing principle: making money. Even the Pilgrims (who’d resettled in Holland before heading to Massachusetts) set sail for the New World in search of fortune not faith. See how even the history gets shifted to white peoples’ advantage? We’ve mythologized the Pilgrims into heroes in search of freedom when, in reality, they were economic itinerants who brought little with them except pathogens, violence and an unjustified superiority complex.

Want to talk audacity? You sail to another continent. You get off your boat. You step onto someone else’s land and you claim it as yours!

Yeah, it all starts there. “Manifest destiny” is pure white audacity.

White audacity is penning “All men are created equal” while meaning only white, Christian, land-owning MEN – like you.

Andrew Johnson strangling Reconstruction before it could get up to speed — that was white audacity. America’s entire westward expansion — white audacity. Every brutal attack on Native Americans whose territory we were seizing — white audacity. Basing the entire southern economy on slavery — stolen labor — white audacity. Declaring slaves to be but three-fifths of a white person — white audacity. Going to war to defend slavery — the whitest of white audacity. Continuing to fight the Civil War (in order to keep slavery alive even if “spiritually”) — that, it seems, is the whole point of white audacity. If white supremacists could bring back literal slavery, they absolutely positively would. And plenty of non-white supremacist white would shrug their shoulders and go along with it. Because they’re white and the audacity is now baked in.

Travis McMichael and his two co-defendants hunted Ahmaud Arbery down and shot him to death. Based only on their suspicions and crap information, these three racists deputized themselves as judge, jury and executioner because that’s what white privilege tells them they can do. Audacious, right? That they thought they could get away with “self defense” as a defense — wow! What audacity!

But then, every white lie is in service of The Big Lie. The fact that there even IS a “Big Lie”?

That’s the most audacious white audacity of all.

“Originalism” is Racism In A Judicial Robe

I almost admire the conservative ability to wardrobe utter bullcrap as serious legal argument — and get away with it. “Originalism” is one hundred percent pure, unadulterated bullcrap. The tell? It holds this truth to be “self evident” — that “all men are created equal”. Except the white, Christian, land-owning men who wrote and stood by those words didn’t mean them literally. Yes, they meant only men. But, by “men”, they only meant white, Christian, land-owning humans possessing a Y chromosome (a thing they didn’t know existed). While some of America’s founders truly took their inspiration from the French Enlightenment, too many took their inspiration from the Bible — where slavery (and bigamy and child rape and all kinds of awfulness) was accepted. The Bible was used to justify slavery (and miscegeny and genocide). To this day, some of our most fervent Christians (by their description) are also our most fervent racists, misogynists, bigots and fans of genocide. Orginalism sees itself reflected in slavery and it likes what it sees.

Originalism is all about justification — justifying why modern people, despite being modern, are obligated to follow how things were done in the past simply because that’s how they were done in the past! That’s it. That’s conservatism’s entire rationale — what’s wrong with ‘how we did it’ even if ‘how we did it’ excluded, punished, disenfranchised or disadvantaged an increasing percentage of the rapidly diversifying population?

The term was coined in the early 1980’s by then Stanford Law School dean Paul Brest (who was actually critiquing originalism as a way of thinking). Legal minds and scholars were trying to wrestle to the ground “the founders’ original intent” as a “final arbiter” for how to interpret them. Now, let’s be clear up front — the founders did some serious heavy lifting. They articulated something that hadn’t ever been articulated before: what Lincoln would later call “a government of the people, by the people and for the people”. But, being fallible humans (being men even more fallible therefore!) America’s founders didn’t get it entirely right. For starters? They screwed the pooch on “All men are created equal”! We The People need to start there. Most people who aren’t white already do.

Originalism appealed to smart guys like Antonin Scalia because they saw in it a way to disguise their own racism. They want us to believe it’s not relevant that the founders lived in a hierarchical world of their own creation. That slavery existed then means, really, that slavery should still exist now. Republicans really and truly do believe that. It’s why they hate the whole idea of a “minimum wage”. A minimum wage means you can’t coerce someone to work for you for free. That is what slavery is after all — stolen labor. A slave owner steals the work product of his slaves (after deducting the costs of housing, clothing and feeding the slave). It must have been profitable because slavery persisted in America for as long as it did.

It took a whole Civil War to actually stop it. Though, looking back, clearly, we only stopped slavery as practiced out in the open. Slavery has endured to this day. It’s what killed Reconstruction dead before it could level the playing field. It’s what motivated every Jim Crow law (now and then). It’s what motivated poll taxes and voting restrictions. It’s what motivates white supremacy and pretty much the entire Republican “agenda” (such as it is). Originalism, don’t forget, made its peace with slavery: it accepted it outright.

And every originalist still does — still accepts, if not slavery itself (so messy!) then slavery’s cousins, nieces, nephews and entire extended family. Anything that forces America to be exactly how it was, or to think how it thought, wears its white supremacist purpose right there on its Klan robe. How much would you like to bet that more than a few conservatives — if given a way — would gladly bring back slavery?

Fortunately for America, some of its founders actually got what America was actually doing — saw its genius and framed that genius correctly: “E Pluribus Unum”. Out of many, one has always been the source of America’s genuine exceptionalism. Diversity. Ironically, diversity is originalism’s nemesis.

What more do you need to know about originalism? It excuses white people from ever having to work too hard, from having to compete, or from ever having to take responsibility for their actions. Imagine the chaos that corruption would cause if it slipped on a judicial robe and then legitimized itself. Hey — no need to tax your imagination. Show me an originalist, I’ll show you a racist — even if they present as a perfectly nice lady like Amy Coney Barrett. Institutional racism like theirs never has to sully itself with honesty. The racism embedded in the culture does all their heavy lifting.

Ditto the misogyny.

The RW money — seeing demographic extinction in its future — got proactive. The Mercers, the Kochs et al, put their money on (and into) the Mitch McConnell project to deny President Obama very possible lifetime federal bench seat while cramming through as many of Trump’s lifetime appointments as possible (including Amy Coney Barrett’s shotgun nomination and confirmation in the waning days of Traitor-In-Chief Donald Trump). The RW money represented the very same interests as white supremacy — but with a used car salesman’s disingenuous smile and a proctologist’s cold, fishy handshake. Democracy poses too many problems. It’s too, too unpredictable. That’s why it was always the RW money’s goal to do everything possible to undermine American democracy — it’s the shortest distance between where they are now and permanent minority rule.

If America’s founders had been all or mostly Black, do ya really suppose “originalism” would be a “thing” among white guys today? Of course it wouldn’t! And if Black guys spit back “originalism” every time a white guy demanded to know why he had no rights? This is one more conversation we would not be having.

Why Are Republicans So Skilled At “Bullsh*t Kabuki”?

Last night, GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy treated America to a (literally) record-breaking performance. He stood in the House of Representatives — in theory to spew a few dishonest words about the BBB before the House voted on it — and then, like men do in a room, he hijacked it. Kevin spoke for eight plus hours — flipping through binders filled with filler Kevin could reference as he spoke. And spoke. And spoke. Kevin was filibustering the vote the best (the only) way he could in the House where no filibuster exists. In the end, it didn’t matter one bit. The House just passed it! So, why was Kevin doing this? Was it because the legislation that just passed the House would do terrible things to his constituents and his district? No. The opposite is true. Most Americans — including the Californians in Kevin’s Central Valley district — want desperately what the BBB will provide Kevin’s constituents using their tax dollars. Even the CBO score agreed that the BBB would be better for America than doing nothing and a kajillion times better than anything any Republican has done or would ever propose.

Eight hours of bullshit kabuki. That’s what Kevin put on — and, if we’re fair — skillfully! Republicans can’t govern to save their lives (which they prove every time they get elected to office). But, damn if they can’t perform bullshit kabuki with consummate skill.

Remember Kyle Rittenhouse, weeping for himself on the witness stand — blubbering away, woe to him, because he’s being held to account for murdering people with a gun that should never have been in his ignorant, racist, adolescent hands? How about Travis McMichael insisting on cross examination that Ahmaud Arbery’s running away from him for ten minutes — no weapon, no backpack, just fear for his life — posed a mortal threat demanding lethal force (three shotgun blasts, two of them hitting Arbery and killing him)? Or Brett Kavanaugh wailing angrily at anyone who’d dare question his integrity? Equally disingenuous (but deserving of note): Republican Senator Susan Collins insisting (all evidence to the contrary) that she supports reproductive rights.

Bullshit kabuki is what you resort to when you have nothing under the hood to sell. Conservatives, don’t forget, want to “conserve” a Confederacy of whiteness. They want us to hold firmly onto the version of “All men are created equal” that doesn’t actually mean “all men” but does mean “only men”. Republicans know they can’t pitch regressing America back to 1850 to a diversifying electorate increasingly reluctant to let white people get away with abusing everyone NOT white. That’s why Republicans suppress Democratic voters and gerrymander. That’s why Republicans deal in dark money. That’s why they’ll even commit treason to hold onto power.

Once you’ve acknowledged — as Kevin McCarthy did on June 25, 2016 — that you suspect your presidential nominee might be compromised by a hostile foreign government (“There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” is how Kevin put it as he entered a meeting of Republican leaders a full month before the GOP nominated Trump) — you’ve nowhere to go except to the FBI. When you don’t — and neither Kevin nor any other Republican in that room even thought about calling the FBI — you cross a very real line. In hindsight — considering how deeply Vlad Putin still has his hooks into Trump? Kevin’s suspicions become even more problematic.

But that’s just from a legal perspective. We’re talking kabuki! Performance! And, from THAT perspective, Republicans are true “artistes” — and I’m here to celebrate their “artistry”. Below — some examples of Republican Bullshit Kabuki and my personal ratings and notes. I’ve given up drinking (but taken up smoking cannabis that much more); still, I appreciate structure and intensity. Great bullshit kabuki is like a big, massive red wine that can’t even spell “subtlety”. It’s kind of a cross between Hamlet’s advice to the players not to saw the air too much with their hands and MacBeth’s “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing.”

That’s how I score it!

MY SCORES

6/10 Kyle’s good but he’s too clearly coached. He’ll get better after a few years in the can — if he’s sent to the can. As of this writing, Kyle’s jury is still out, his fate undecided. If the jury acquits Kyle, he’ll be free, but his bullshit kabuki skills won’t evolve. Hey, I worry for the kid!

Brett is what world class bullshit kabuki is all about. It’s defiant. Sociopathic even. Brett loves beer, man! And rape! And there ain’t nothing wrong with that! See what I mean about being “full of sound and fury” but “signifying nothing”?

The Bullshit Kabuki King, of course, is Donald Trump. He’s a whole school of bullshit kabuki unto himself.

Next time: why our news media loves bullshit kabuki…

Why Does Our News Media Insist On Equating Bullsh*t With Truth?

Some day, when the worst of Trumpism is behind us and American democracy is no longer under threat (or even duress), we owe it to ourselves to take a good, long, hard look at how our news media performed during this patch of time. Now, in their defense, America really hasn’t faced circumstances quite like the hand we’ve drawn here. On top of a Russian cyber war that put Trump in the White House in 2016, we’ve had a violent right wing surge across the planet that’s deliberately set out to wipe liberal democracy from the planet, massive climate change that’s already creating climate refugees, a violent, right wing near-putsch of our own and, last but hardly least, a worldwide pandemic. That’s a lot of news story for even a great journalist to wrap their mind around. Alas, our news media has not met the challenge head on. They’ve blinked — still are blinking like Chuck Todd signaling “I’m thinking!” to his audience — and resorted to old tropes instead looking at the events happening in front of them.

We owe it to ourselves to find that journalism professor at whatever J School it was who first proposed that “both sides do it”. We owe that academic a giant heap of scorn. I assume “Both sides do it” originated in academia among academics who couldn’t get hired as journalists themselves and so took to telling others “how to do” something. There’s an old comedy line (I refuse to source who said it because Woody Allen’s dead to me otherwise): “those who can’t do, teach and those who can’t teach, teach gym”. These journalism professors can’t even teach gym. Unfortunately they’ve taught a generation of journalists how to be cynical instead of skeptical and how to equate bullshit with the Truth.

After a reporter has reported that a certain person — a POTUS, say — lied to their face thousands of times, said reporter is entitled to characterize this liar as “a liar”. Actually, that reporter was entitled to describe the liar that way after just ONE lie. The reporter would have been reporting the truth. To NOT call them a liar then is to NOT report the truth. Now, why on earth would a journalist think that way? I suspect racism plays a large part here. Many white reporters are loathe to call out white people for bad behavior because we’ve already moved the goal posts where white bad behavior is concerned. If Kyle Rittenhouse was Black not white, he’d have never gotten to trial for killing two, wounding a third and nearly hurting lots of others with his semi-automatic weapon. He’d be dead already, shot down by the other white guys who were there that night with their guns, or the cops.

“Both sides do it” is fatally flawed walking in the door. It dispenses with all proportionality. A Republican who steals a million from the public kitty is the same as a Democrat who purloins a box of paper clips. Yes, both are thefts from the commonweal. No, they are not even remotely “the same”. But, our news media will hold up this fact as prima facie evidence that “both sides do it”. Therefore when Republicans do something — gerrymander, say — the automatic response is “both sides do it”. And yes — in the past, Democrats have gerrymandered Congressional districts. But they haven’t done it with the organization and purpose with which the GOP now is doing it. The Republicans clearly stated goal is to circumvent the will of any place’s Democratic majority by carving them into pieces and then attaching each piece to some far-flung Republican stronghold that will outnumber them. The whole reason to do this is to circumvent the majority’s will for the minority’s sole benefit.

Democrats do not do that. And Democrats don’t suppress Republican voters either. They don’t have to! Democrats can rely on the strength of their ideas to sway independent voters.

And Democrats aren’t working overtime to undermine every other democratic institution either. Have ya noticed the number of ex-Republicans disgusted by their party we now have versus the number of ex-Democrats with the same complaint? Do ya suppose that means something noteworthy? Our news media doesn’t. They think all the ex-Republicans in their ranks and amongst their punditry — all vocally outraged by what their former party is doing — are a sign of politics as usual. The news media seems to think it’s “normal” that one party backs anti-vaxism and gets violent if you ask them to put on a mask in a public space.

Republicans have become the “Feelings Over Facts” Party because facts are not their friend. Because they insist “both sides do it”, our news media immediately equates any Republican’s feelings with any Democrat’s facts. How a Republican “feels” about being vaccinated suddenly has equal weight to every fact a Democrat will put on the table about the very same thing. Nothing good can come from that. And nothing good has.