Republicans & The Culture Of Ignorance

Republicans didn’t always used to be champions of ignorance. Funny irony? When the Republican Party was founded back in 1854 (Abraham Lincoln was among its founders), their anti-slavery mission statement spoke of their dedication to classical liberalism and real economic opportunity for all Americans not just the moneyed class.

As Heather Cox Richardson points out in her excellent To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party, after 1912, the GOP shifted away from those ideals — and started to metastasize into the hard core racist party driven by white Southern rage that it is today.

These “new-fangled” Republicans pointed squarely at their religious faith as the justification for both their racism and their backwardness — a backwardness they felt compelled to shove down everyone else’s throat. It’s not surprising. Ignorance detests knowledge because knowledge is ignorance’s kryptonite.

By the same token, ignorant people detest information because information destroys their ignorance — and they need their ignorance to justify their politics and their whole belief system. Republicans are all about Magical Thinking. That’s great when you’re a kid and regardless of whether or not Santa Claus is real, the gifts show up under the tree on Christmas morning.

Republicans like Jesse Helms happily took up the name “Know-Nothings”. Originally, the “Know-Nothings” were a group of bigoted anti-Catholic politicians whose strategy — when questioned on the subject — was to insist they “knew nothing”. That’s willful ignorance with a racist, bigoted purpose.

It’s not a coincidence that Republicans describe themselves by and large as more religious than the majority of Americans. That’s “religious” as opposed to “spiritual”. Most Republicans don’t seem to have “spiritual” in their psychological makeup. They like religion for its rules and regulations. And its exclusivity. If you don’t believe what I believe…

And, of course, what they believe is based on Magical Thinking and storytelling. Funny thing? One can be a fan of Jesus — and do unto others every day — without being a member of any church. Why, even a humble atheist can do unto others without contradicting themselves. Doing Unto Others in fact demands that you put DOWN your ignorance.

It’s simple. Republicans are conservative. Conservatives — as their name implies — want to CONSERVE. But conserve what? It ain’t the future — there’s nothing to conserve since it doesn’t exist.

The present? Sure — but only the parts of the present that still hold firmly to the past. That’s what conservatives want to conserve and what Republicans want America to be — what we WERE. For some, it’s a white man’s vision of the 1950’s that only existed in their minds. For the rest, it’s a vision of the 1850’s that’s quite real. That’s what they want to conserve.

To get there, you have to stop taking in any new information. You have to assume that whatever we knew then is still good enough for now. It’s not a coincidence that Republicans by-and-large poo-poo the need for higher education. Hell, a lot of Republicans would be down with letting kids quit school and go to work. They might as well accept their servitude early.

If not for gerrymandering, voter suppression and direct Russian interference, Donald Trump would not be POTUS. The Republicans would not have won all three branches of our govt. Russia had a lot to do with that, too.

The current Republican obstructive tactics are just more of them trying to make ignorance the norm. As the desperation in their arguments makes clear — they know that the more WE know about what they’ve been doing — the worse it will be for them.

Our ignorance is a matter of their survival.

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Giving Liars The Benefit Of The Doubt Isn’t “Journalism”, It’s Just “Stupid”

This shouldn’t be rocket science (yet it is to our MSM): giving a liar the benefit of the doubt tells the liar his lies are working. 

For some reason – perhaps because their Normalization Blinders are bolted on too tightly again – our MSM persists in repeating Donald Trump’s words as if they COULD be true.  Do they figure that “just because” those words flowed from the bloated orange gob of the shit-gibbon currently occupying the White House that there’s the remote chance they could be true?  I guess that “could” be possible – but considering the Washington Post has counted over 12,000 lies so far – it makes giving a liar that obvious the benefit of the doubt look… the word “stupid” shoves its way to the front of the line like Donald Trump at a meeting of world leaders.

And yet, there are STILL “journalists” convinced that at any second Donald Trump will “pivot” and become “presidential”.

The ache for normalcy is that strong.

The problem is, giving known liars and criminals any benefit of any doubt 1) encourages them to keep doing what they’re doing and 2) it normalizes their lies, making it (as so many in the MSM still report “different” rather than, say corrupt or dishonest or lying. 

Asking “But, what if…” may seem like a fair and balanced question if not for the context. Context is everything.  “But what if the Big, Bad Wolf decides he’s not hungry enough to eat Red Riding Hood right this second, (having already chowed down on Grandma)?”

“But, what if Hitler only said he hated Jews?”

“But, what if Donald Trump isn’t a traitor?”

Republicans Have No Idea What “Integrity” Is — “Ditto” The Rule Of Law

Ever meet a guy with 96% of his integrity intact? “Yeah — he’s pretty honest most of the time… it’s that 4% where he’s a goddamned liar that’s the problem” is not a sentence one hears often. There’s a reason.

Integrity either is or it isn’t. There’s no middle ground, no grey area. In fact, there’s no grey area anywhere near Integrity’s zip code.

We’re all born equal where Integrity’s concerned: we all get 100% at birth. It’s entirely up to us what we do with it. Treat people with respect (“Do Unto Others is how Jesus put it) and you’re likely to keep your Integrity at 100% your whole life. Make a habit of screwing people over and people will quickly realize that you’re a dishonest shit not worth their time.

Republicans are people who somehow got it in their heads that there IS an Integrity grey area. This is something they told themselves, being corrupt. Republicans still think (apparently) that their continuing association with every Trumpian abuse of our Republic won’t haunt them when Donald Trump is long in our rear view mirror.

They could not be more wrong.

Having no Integrity, it wasn’t hard for Republicans to bust a cap in The Rule Of Law’s noggin. Just like with Integrity, the Rule Of Law can’t live in any middle ground. The Rule Of Law must either “be” or “not be”.

Our problem started the instant we turned a blind eye to the smallest violation of The Rule Of Law. To not enforce is to move the goal posts. What should have remained illegal has now been granted “don’t bother with it” status. Who made such a decision — and why? The Rule Of Law didn’t make it. It violates The Rule Of Law right on its face.

What really exacerbates our problem is this — our Main Stream News Media have repeatedly normalized behaviors and flat out corruption that should have set their heads ablaze. Instead, they eventually let every last Trumpian outrage (illegal ones included) go. And each time they let go and looked toward Trump’s next sparkly object, they paid for it. More importantly, We The People paid for it.

When — it’s not an “if” — we manage to get The Rule Of Law back up onto its feet, we may be shocked by how cruel The Rule Of Law seems. a Shitload of Republicans will have to be punished — including Republicans who eventually came around (talking to YOU, Joe Walsh). Those Republicans that had so much as an inkling what Trump & the GOP were up to (especially as it concerns quid-pro-quoing sanctions) need to be punished because The Rule Of Law says you report shit like that to the Proper Authorities — the FBI, for instance.

We have to be firm though in seeing that The Rule Of Law is carried out to its very letter even if people we like get swept up in its execution.

If we saw The Rule Of Law any differently, it would mean we had zero Integrity.

Each & Every One Of Us Is Making It Up As We Go Along — Every Day; Why Not Own It?

I’ve told this story here before. Three days before Christmas 2016, I came within inches of bullshitting myself to death.

That’s how I thought of it not long afterward — after driving straight to my doctor’s office and pretty much demanding that he write me a prescription for the mood stabilizer I had researched and thought would be my shot at salvation. See, darkness and depression rob you of perspective. I’d lost so much perspective that I believed insurance money would eventually assuage the deep psychic pain I’d cause my family.

That there, friends, is some serious-assed bullshit. That’s why this blog is called what it’s called. I got very lucky with my mood stabilizer. I leveled at the lowest dose within 36 hours and stopped wanting to hurt myself. With the darkness now held at bay — and aware of how close bullshit came to killing me, I began to realize how my bullshit (and most of it was mine but some was the culture’s) had built up in my life like plaque in a vein.

Even though killing myself was off the table, bullshit still outweighed every other component of my waking life. Most of my bullshit was either incidental bullshit or tolerable bullshit — the stuff we do to get through a day. But some was capable of metastasizing. That’s the stuff I turned my focus on.

As I said, depression (very much like bullshit) robs you of perspective. Perspective by the same token is like kryptonite to bullshit — and depression. Regaining perspective put a whole new set of lenses in my hands. Being able now to pull the camera back as far as I could, that was liberating! The first thing I saw with absolute clarity — dealing with my own bullshit was going to be a full time gig. Like it or not, I was going to have to let everyone else’s bullshit go.

The second thing I saw — again, with absolute clarity — the only way to fully negate bullshit’s impact was brutal honesty (to myself about myself within myself). Think of it as confession except you’re the church, the confession booth and the priest. You know where all your bodies are buried — FFS, YOU’RE THE ONE WHO BURIED THEM.

The third thing I saw — clearest of all: I had the power, within me, to overcome virtually every last bit of bullshit’s hold on me. All I had to do was want it. And be willing to work at it every single day.

We live in dark times. Dark forces are actively working to create a permanent state of darkness. That’s not hyperbole unfortunately.

Human beings thinking innovatively is a very recent phenomenon. For thousands of years, human armies fought pretty much the exact same way with very little improvement in technology. Even gunpowder didn’t really change the close-at-hand, colliding walls of humans battlefield strategy that persisted through World War I.

In his excellent book Sapiens, Juval Harrari points out how it really wasn’t until the industrial age that humans even imagined that tomorrow could be better than today. Up until technology became an instrument of commerce, it was generally understood that human beings were living in the fading afterglow of a long ago golden age. No one aspired to be anything other than what they were born as. What was the point?

And then humans realized — slowly — that that way of thinking was wrong. It wasn’t based on anything other than false perception and groupthink. Groupthink that went on for thousands of years.

Think of a subject like marijuana — and how our whole way of thinking of it was colored not by the truth, but by one man’s racist intent. We made up laws to punish people for reasons the people crafting the laws knew wasn’t true. That’s all very deliberate — and every last bit of it is bullshit.

In places like California and Oregon and Colorado, we consciously decided to stop thinking one way and start thinking a different way.

The Rule Of Law isn’t just under assault in America, it needs an armed guard to piss in the middle of the night. The Republican Party — especially Mitch McConnell — stopped playing by any such “rules” years ago in pursuit of a project determined to install permanent minority rule. Meanwhile the Democrats have made themselves prisoners of the Rule Of Law.

That’s the fatal flaw at the Rule Of Law’s heart — those who follow it will always be prisoners of those bent on perverting it. Yes, we can prosecute rule-breakers, but when the people charged with creating and enforcing the rules are the ones most intent on breaking them — not much good can come of it.

In my daily life — wanting to get healthy — I cut bullshit from my diet as much as I can. I feel better for it — for real. I walk around most of the time in a perpetual state of bliss. It ain’t the limotrigine, the therapy or the THC doing that — it’s the minimalization of bullshit in my daily diet.

The same way we can set ourselves up for failure, we can set ourselves up for success. It’s all a matter of how you look at it. But you do have to look at it.

People Who Believe In Magic Can Never Be Trusted — Because They Believe In Magic

Oh, look — It’s the SS Ooga-Booga!

You’re lying on a gurney, about to be wheeled into emergency surgery. The surgeon appears — big smile on his face — just before they put you under.

“Nothing to worry about,” he says (a little too loudly), “You’re gonna be fine — I just know it! I prayed as hard as I could and god said — ‘you got this!’ — so ya see? You’re gonna be okay!” Then he mentions that he’s never actually performed this particular surgery before. Hell — he’s never performed surgery EVER — he PRAYS instead.

He doesn’t have a “track record” of success per se but there’s a lot of road kill where his patients used to be.

As they go to squirt the anesthesia into you — how’s it feel knowing this is probably it for you because the guy performing your surgery BELIEVES IN MAGIC instead of reality?

The same goes for your airline pilot. As he rolls you out toward the runway, the last thing you want to hear is that he decided to forgo refueling the plane (fuel’s so heavy anyway) because he believes you can all get from where you are to where you’re going on faith alone.

People making policy decisions — or going to war — because their core value is magic are dangerous. In America, perversely, we encourage magical thinking in our public officials. Up until very recently, it would have been political suicide to even hint that you were an atheist — even as a mere constituent. The ironic assumption that people with no religious faith are automatically inclined toward violence and chaos is hilarious considering all the violence and chaos religious people cause.

Let’s be absolutely real here — if you tell me that at the very core of everything you believe — that the basis for what you think and do — is a fairy tale so absurd and illogical that a child could pick it apart — that’s so fragile a construction that they had to invent a word (“blasphemy“) to describe realistic reactions to the nonsense — then it’s going to be hard to take ANYTHING you think seriously.

If you deny evolution because it’s not mentioned in a text written by ignorant desert-dwellers 4000 years ago or insist that the earth is only a few thousand years old, that an actual man named Adam and an actual woman named Eve lived for a time in an actual garden called Eden where a talking snake screwed the pooch for humanity — your gullibility is shameful. So’s your lack of critical thinking skills.

If you honestly believe that the NT is literally true — that a sky deity named Yahweh had sex with a virgin human girl in order to produce a man-god that would have to die to forgive the “original sin” committed by an imaginary woman in an imaginary garden — then you’re going to have to understand why your opinion on how I might live my life is totally irrelevant. Your opinion about anything is meaningless because you think total bullshit is true.

We should know more do what you think as go into surgery knowing the surgeon’s an incompetent fool.

America has lived too long in Christianity’s thrall. We are not now and never have been a Christian nation. That was part of the point. But Christians — as opposed to followers of Jesus (a completely separate group of people) are a pushy lot. Proseltyzing is baked into their culture (going all the way back to Paul). “Have ya heard the ‘good news’?” they want to know.

If you haven’t, can they spew it at you? If you don’t want it, can they force it down your throat anyway?

I wish our leaders were deeply spiritual. I want them all to feel connected in every way to their real constituents — the people they represent. I want them to cast off their religion though — because the first has nothing to do with the second.

America is the place where Ooga met Booga and produced a mother lode of bullshit. Mormonism was created here. So was Scientology. So was Branch Dividianism and the cults of Jim Jones & Charles Manson. These are all religions that demand their followers surrender all reason — and accept the magic.

Maybe Nancy Reagan had it right — “Just Say No!” Her problem was she should have been talking about religion, not recreational drugs.

From A Branding Point Of View, “Christian” Is Kinda Spent; Followers Of Jesus Need A New Name

I’ll own it — a born atheist has no business telling Christians anything about their brand. Except, Christianity — being a sales-based religion (“Hey, have ya heard the ‘good news’ style proselytizing started with Paul, the actual inventor of Christianity) — relies almost entirely on how it’s perceived by others. After all, isn’t the point of me hearing “the good news” the hope that I’ll come to my senses and convert?

Christians are preaching to a shrinking choir. Have they ever stopped to ask themselves why? No, they haven’t — because self-analysis isn’t part of the brand. Confession is. So’s an intense focus on rules & regs at the diminishing expense of any sort of spirituality. Christianity’s problem isn’t branding. Christianity’s problem is its brand.

I’ve blogged on many occasions with receipts (so I won’t do it here) about the Christian Church’s origins. It’s entirely Paul’s invention. Entirely. Jesus’ simple (Jewish) message — Do Unto Others — got subsumed into and under the mythology that Paul created and spread to the brand new churches forming across the Roman world. Paul never met Jesus. Never heard Jesus preach or teach. He failed trying to sell his version of Jesus to the Jews (with its wild, magic-heavy “proofs” that Jesus was the messiah) and, so, turned to the Gentiles.

The Gentiles, having no knowledge of (or concern for) Jewish mythology, accepted Paul’s version — because why wouldn’t they? Paul had created something genius — a way to conquer death. Accept Jesus as your lord and savior and you can live forever.

That has nothing to do with “Doing Unto Others”. And the church Paul created was big on forcing non-Christians to accept Jesus. Ironically, those Christians were going to “Do Unto Others” on pain of death.

The Catholic Church, once it acquired political power, never let that power go. Whatever spirituality there was in the institution died. More irony — Jesus preached against having churches because churches, he said, were corrupt. What could be more corrupt than the Catholic Church? Almost from the day it hung out its shingle, the Catholic Church has concerned itself with rules & regs, getting money into its coffers, and increasing its “membership”.

There is no way to count the number of humans who have died because of religion. Christianity — with its crusades and its inquisitions and its own internecine wars — has put its stamp on a veritable shit ton of them. And all to sell a product that its own supposed creator would never ever EVER recognize.

The Christian Church and Jesus aren’t just estranged, they’re strangers. That disconnect is what’s killing the church (whether Catholic or Protestant). I have a dear friend — a Presbyterian minister — whose job is trying to keep Presbyterian congregations alive.

The proud conservative Christians running the Republican Party — bowing in total obeisance to the evangelicals — have also helped destroy any notion that such a thing as “Christian mercy” exists outside of a sanctimonious Sunday sermon. Brown Children in cages was not what Jesus had children suffering unto in his mind.

If I’m a brand that needs new followers to stay alive — that needs brand loyalty from current followers — that has to compete with a thousand more ideas than it ever had to before — I’m afraid (if I’m Christianity). I wouldn’t be however, if I were Jesus.

Is there a more potent antidote the vile, self-serving piggery of Trumpism than “Do Unto Others”? Republicanism — same question. Christianity — you, too.

Jesus and Christianity have nothing to do with each other. Followers of Jesus — even now — are loathe to associate themselves with evangelicals or the rapey Catholic Church or any of the rules & regs heavy institutions their parents forced on them when they were kids.

I would say Followers Of Jesus need a new Paul — to create a new institution that gets the mythology right. But, right off the bat, that would violate one of Jesus’ core tenants — the need for a church.

Maybe a better way to go would be to actually follow Jesus. If you want to follow him theistically — go directly to god. Skip the institution. If you just want to Do Unto Others? Well, who’s stopping you? All you have to do is “Do”.

Maybe the best new brand for Followers Of Jesus is to call themselves DUO’s. They Do Unto Others. That’s all you need to know about them (so long as their actions match their words). I’d say they don’t even need that.

But what do I know? I’m just a dumb atheist.

Why Do They Even Call It “Christianity” When Their Religion Has Nothing To Do With Jesus & Never Did…

I’ll confess right here — lifetime atheist though I am, I am also a big time fan of Jesus. I don’t know for sure if a historical Jesus ever existed but someone like the character depicted in the New Testament seems to have put forward a teaching — “Do Unto Others” — drawn directly from the Jewish culture into which he was born and lived his entire life — that, today, still resonates loudly across the millennia.

In 1985, a group of actual bible scholars (people with actual academic degrees from reputable institutions of higher learning as opposed to bullshit degrees from bullshit Christian universities with bullshit standards and zero integrity) got together and formed The Jesus Seminar. Their goal — apply some serious objective analysis to the NT texts so as to coax out, as best they could, an historical Jesus.

The Seminar identified 15 or so phrases unanimously agreed upon by the canonical gospels which, the seminar felt, could have been spoken by a historical Jesus — so as to be disseminated by his followers. The Jesus who steps from the pages of the Seminar’s analysis has a simple message — Do Unto Others (which includes suffering the Little Children to come unto you) and, if you need to speak to god, go to “the father” directly. You don’t need a church to intercede on your behalf. GO DIRECTLY!”

If you recall from the stories about Jesus, he didn’t like the money changers. He didn’t like that the temple authorities allowed the money changers inside the temple’s forecourt. That, Jesus taught, debased the core message. It invalidated the temple’s authority to speak for god or to even pretend that they could intercede on their followers’ behalves.

Jesus advocates AGAINST having churches or religious “authorities”. So — how come there’s a Christian “church”? How could so gigantic a contradiction sit right in the heart of the Christian faith itself? The answer is ask Paul.

Paul (the former Saul of Tarsus) invented Christianity. The majority of the NT texts are Paul’s letters & epistles to the various gentile communities to which he was spreading his version of Jesus, Jesus’ story and Jesus’ message. Remember — Paul never met Jesus. Never spoke to him. Never heard his voice.

For a good, solid understanding of and perspective on Paul, I recommend A. N. Wilson’s excellent book Paul: The Mind Of An Apostle.

While Paul started by selling his version of Jesus to the Jews, they didn’t want it — because Paul’s version wasn’t authentic. Gentiles didn’t have any history or knowledge of Jewish customs, thought or mythology so Paul’s contorted version — virgin birth in Bethlehem, wise men presaging greatness, rising from the dead — seemed perfectly authentic. Never mind the fact that it was all invented, top to bottom. When Paul speaks of Jesus, he never stresses the messages Jesus himself stressed.

That’s because historical Jesus was of no use to Paul. So he invented a new Jesus. A Jesus that worked for him. Paul invented the Jesus that smiled upon the Catholic Church — an institution Jesus would have hated with every single atom of his being. Don’t hurt yourself laughing so hard, Protestants — your version of Jesus is just as disconnected from reality.

We won’t even talk about the Mormons (whose version of Jesus even visited North America — a place the real Jesus had no way of knowing even existed).

Ya know how, these days, we can’t figure out why Christians are so… “un-Christian”? This is why. The problem isn’t them, it’s us. All those people are being COMPLETELY Christian. What they aren’t being are “followers of Jesus”. To follow Jesus means all those devout Christians would have to denounce their “Christianity” — and all the oppressive, regressive, obsessive rules and regs that are the real appeal of their faith — and, instead, become spiritual. That ain’t happening.

To follow Jesus, one must be spiritual or have the capacity for spirituality. That’s the opposite of following a religion. Religions are crowd control. They are defined by their rules & their structures — and those structures don’t build or sustain themselves. The money has to come from somewhere which is why churches work so hard to get bodies into the pews and money from the pockets in those pews. Churches don’t really exist for the benefit of anyone’s faith, they exist for the benefit of themselves. Churches are like sharks (and relationships) — they have to keep moving or they’ll die.

If a historical Jesus could come back, he surely would not recognize the faith being touted as his creation. That’s because it isn’t his — and never was. It pains me deeply to quote Woody Allen but he got this one right. If Jesus were to come back to see what’s been done in his name, “he would never stop throwing up”.