“U” For “Unvaccinated” IS The New “Scarlet Letter”

In the month since I first published this post (then it was “Should Be The New Scarlet Letter” vs “IS”), the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant has become its own little pandemic here in America — among the belligerently unvaccinated.

Remember Hester Prynne? In Nathanial Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter”, Hester is forced by her intensely religious Puritan community to wear a scarlet letter “A” as punishment for having committed adultery. To the sin-hating Puritans, adultery wasn’t just deeply sinful, it was virtually unforgivable.

Jump forward several hundred years to now. America has made peace with all sorts of sins. Even the Arthur Dimmesdale’s of the world — in the person of religionista, pastor, former Liberty University president and super proud cocksman Jerry Falwell, Jr — have come out from hiding. Jerry Junior isn’t just unashamed of his adultery, he’s openly boastful about it!

Jerry Falwell Jr., president of the Christian and conservative Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., posted this photo on social media Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, with the caption: “More vacation shots. Lots of good friends visited us on the yacht. I promise that’s just black water in my glass. It was a prop only.”

That expression on Jerry-Junior’s face? It’s shouting “Hey, see the smile on this young lady’s face? I put it there!”

These days, we’re more likely to force someone to wear a scarlet “A” because they’re a raging Asshole. Which brings us to anti-vaxxers — another “scarlet A”. Were it not for anti-vaxxers and their relentless spew of bullshit into the info stream, America would have gotten atop the coronavirus already. We probably wouldn’t be talking about “booster shots” because we would have achieved herd immunity within our borders. All that excess production would have already gone into making vaccine for the rest of the world — and, perhaps, that would have spared us the Delta and Mu variants and everything before and in between. Our economy would be more settled, its improvements more sustainable and reliable. And, instead of still dying in droves, Americans would be helping to restore our image across the globe as the main engine of the world’s recovery.

Too bad about the “forces of darkness” within our midst.

Pathogens are by far the most potent weapon on the planet. Throughout human history, pathogens have relentlessly culled the human herd without us even fully understanding how they were doing it to us. The native population of North America wasn’t conquered by European guns or steal. European pathogens did all the hard work. The guns and steel were there for the mop up operation.

Let’s be crystal clear: anti-vaxx sentiment is based on zero science and a clear misunderstanding of how people need to approach science. Because anti-vaxx sentiment doesn’t need science to undergird its call to action, it can recommend anything. It can advocate for utter bullshit because nothing is there to check its work — and point to how bullshitty it is.

Hester Prynne’s community had nothing whatsoever to fear from Hester. Adultery was not going to spread like a virus (although, to be fair — though it wasn’t their intention — if adultery didn’t spread like a virus, venereal diseases, crabs and pubic lice sure did including syphilis — the one potent pathogen the New World sent back to the Old). Perhaps in the Puritans’ worst nightmares, adultery had the potential to do what pathogens can. There’s a big difference between nightmares and reality though. And Colonial Americans weren’t strangers to the harm pathogens could do. George Washington — following the science of the time — had the Continental Army vaccinated against smallpox. We’ve known what pathogens do and how and why for a couple hundred years now. We KNOW how to protect ourselves from them; that should be the basis for OUR “morality”. Sex as the basis is simply too complicated and hypocrites are everywhere.

Hester is a strange mix of sexually liberated woman and mousey good-girl gone wrong. Anti-vaxxers are zombies. The pathogen has already eaten their brains and now is using the anti-vaxxers as their ride while they come for the rest of us. That’s why we NEED to make every single anti-vaxxer wear that “U” they seem so proud of right there on their person. Let’s tattoo it across their foreheads — it won’t be the ugliest tat on any of their bodies.

President Biden led the way, making vaccinations mandatory for federal employees and the military. Even big corporations appreciated on a granular level how devastating the pandemic’s been to their bottom line. Our consumer economy depends almost entirely on people buying things. Poor people can’t buy anything and rich people — they pretty much have everything they need. They’re not the market products and their manufacturers rely on for long term health. That’d be the middle class. America succeeds best when its middle class is healthy and thriving. That, really, is the whole point of Joe Biden’s progressive agenda. It ain’t “socialism”, it’s a robust middle class driving a socialized capitalism that understands it MUST have limits because integrity matters. And so does having a habitable planet with a habitable environment.

It ain’t vaccinated people stalling the economy — preventing people from getting back to work and their lives back to normal — it’s the unvaccinated. Money is everyone’s bottom line. You threaten our wallets and pocketbooks long enough and you will get our attention. That is the massive pile of shit anti-vaxxers (and, in turn the Republican Party for thinking it could ride the anti-vaxx movement to permanent political power) stepped in. And, if your bullshit threatens our kids?

“U” for “Unvaccinated” IS our new Scarlet Letter.

I bet they’ll not only wear their Scarlet Letters, I bet they’ll compete with each other to make THEIR scarlet “U” bigger than everyone else’s. What point is there in being just “full of shit” when you can be the “fullest” of shit?

Just like Hester was stigmatized, so too should every “U” wearing anti-vaxxer. That U should be why they can’t get hired, get get loans, can’t get service at a restaurant and can’t get former (now vaccinated) friends to return their calls. Pariah-hood is almost too good form them.

I’m torn about what to think of the “former” anti-vaxxer putting his new-found faith in modern medicine on social media as he dies painfully from the very disease he boastfully claimed couldn’t hurt him. America has a strange history of willful ignorance. The “Know Nothings” were an actual political movement starting in the 1850’s. They were anti-Catholic, anti-Irish, anti-immigration, populist and xenophobic. They were neutral on slavery (which makes them pro-slavery by default). Their answer to any question was simply “I know nothing”. Though the movement died within a few years, the sentiment zombied on.

Maybe that’s what the Scarlet “U” actually signifies: the zombification of a third of America. They’re not just unvaccinated; some part of them is “undead”. Oh, great — another “U”.

Religion Has, At Best, A Dysfunctional Relationship With Reason

I’ll own the broad brush right up top. Not all religions struggle with reason. Some really do want to understand what makes us and the world tick (Buddhism focuses on human suffering and misery rather than getting its followers to behave themselves). How did the universe get here and what is the point of it all? That’s all we ask a religion to answer. Before we understood that science was a “thing” (more accurately, a way to think based on as much reality as we could discern), we thought religion was the only path to truth. Where did we come from? In 6th century BCE Persia, the Zoroastrian priest Zarathustra suggested it had something to do with the primeval clash between gods Ahura Mazdā and Angra Mainyu, the Destructive Spirit. Hinduism has multiple creation myths; in fact, it anticipates string theory — it believes our universe is one of many — except Hinduism theorizes that without math, a luxury string theory never gets. The Abrahamic faiths give all the credit to Yahweh, that angry Canaanite leftover (Yahweh’s origins as El are memorialized in Middle Eastern place names like Beth EL and IsraEL). Yahweh, for all his monotheistic confidence, still behaves like a bi-polar depressive who hasn’t the courage of his own convictions. The last word a reasonable person would use to describe the Yahweh character is “reasonable”.

In religion’s defense, it’s trying to answer those big questions armed only with the piss poor information on hand at the religion’s founding. I bet that if the men who wrote the Pentateuch had had access to microscopes and telescopes and the internet, they wouldn’t have written their origin stories the way they did. They would have known as they sat down to articulate the religious ideas in their head that whoever or whatever this Yahweh character was, he fit into a vast physical cosmos that adhered to reliably predictable physical properties. Their religious text would have reflected that real world knowledge — and, perhaps, their approach to spirituality would have been entirely different. Or, more likely, it would not ever have existed at all.

Religion and spirituality are not the same thing. Spirituality is the awe one feels while gazing up at the stars. It’s the awareness of existence itself and of the specific universe we live in. There are things far, far larger than us. They were here before we came, they’ll be here long after we’re gone. Spirituality is a nod to permanence by impermanent creatures. Religion, by contrast, is pure dogma. It’s an institutional attempt to codify spirituality. “To achieve this spiritual goal — beat death, for instance (Christianity’s sales pitch) — you have to follow these steps “religiously”. Fail to follow even one step — become a heretic — and the deal’s off.” That’s how Christianity got from “Do unto others” to “Do what we say or else”.

Of the three Abrahamic religions, Judaism is by far the least dogmatic. I’d even say that Judaism is relatively dogma free. That’s because Judaism is more a culture than a religion. That wasn’t by choice. For almost two thousand years, Jews were ostracized from white, Christian Europe. It wasn’t reason that motivated Jew hate, it was un-reason.

Jesus didn’t invent Christianity, Paul did. And, for that, Paul deserves our eternal respect. The majority of the NT is written by Paul or reflects the mythology Paul was creating out of whole cloth as he took HIS version of Jesus out to the Gentiles. Paul failed to sell his version of Jesus to people who actually knew Jesus (Jesus’ family, for example) or heard Jesus preach. So, Paul turned to the non-Jewish world. Aside from Jews and Zoroastrians, most of the world at that time was polytheistic. Polytheistic gods weren’t materially different from humans; we were all made of the same “stuff”. Polytheistic gods didn’t really care much about humans. Yahweh, on the other hand, cared deeply about humans. He even has a son whose purpose is to help cleanse humans of their most terrible sins (committed by Eve) that keep humans from happiness). Ah, but Yahweh promises even more than that!

If you believe in Jesus in the exact way the institution tell you to, the institution insists that, like Jesus did, you too will defeat death and get to live in a forever happy place with everyone you love.

Can I assure you of something? That’s not really going to happen. It’s never happened — ever. It’s a swell story — we can’t argue with its success, can we? But it’s a story, not reality. Wishful thinking instead of just “thinking”. It recognizes that reason tells a different story than it wants to tell. Good luck trying to apply reason (or basic story logic) to the Jesus-Judas-Crucifixion story. For starters — stone cold truth — whoever Jesus was, he was born, lived his entire life and died a Jew. He had only Jewish thoughts in his head which he preached and taught exclusively to Jews since only Jews would have gotten the context he was preaching — monotheism in a polytheistic world. Paul needed Jesus to BE an actual messiah, not just a maybe messiah.

Keep in mind: the “how to be a messiah” rules are a thousand years old before Jesus or Paul ever hear them. They’re part of a long oral tradition finally written down around the 6th century BCE. 600 years before Jesus shows up. The point: it’s not reality talking here, it’s mythology refracted through Paul’s imagination as he takes his version of Jesus — the son of God, defeater of death — to people with no knowledge or concern for Jewish mythology. Paul and the early church fathers invent censuses that did not happen in order to get Jesus born in Bethlehem — which has to happen if Jesus is to share a bloodline with King David (who’s dead a thousand years at least before Jesus). The whole point of Jesus being a messiah is that by following Jesus, his followers can overcome the weight of Eve’s original sin and live forever in the process. But, that means Jesus HAS TO DIE for the whole mythology machine to work correctly.

Thank about it: if Judas doesn’t betray Jesus (per the story) and Jesus never gets crucified — what does that do to the whole construct? Does it all still work the same if Jesus lives a long, happy life and dies an old man — surrounded by loved ones — in his bed? Doubt it. The Christian mythology Paul invented relied on Jesus dying — and dying by crucifixion was paramount! How else do we get a cross to symbolize the entire faith? Just wondering — if the Romans had imagined the guillotine before the French and used it instead of crucifixion to dispatch people they didn’t like, would Christians now walk around with little guillotines around their necks?

The world’s religions would all tell you that by following them, you’ll find peace. Maybe. The history of religion says not. The history of religion is not a history of peace. It’s not a history of “reason” either.

It’s not a coincidence.

White People And Whitewashing

It might not be a coincidence that white people are better at whitewashing things than pretty much anyone else. Originally, “whitewashing” (coined in 1591 in England) was pretty direct in its meaning. One whitewashed walls to clean them of everything not white resulting in a satisfying. uniform whiteness. A whitewashed cottage was easier on the eyes — especially white eyes. In a way, whitewashing things was a way to impose literal whiteness into an environment. Or onto it. And then something really strange happens when white people see a representation of their own whiteness staring back at them. To them, that whiteness is their own innocence of all charges; it’s a mythology built on an actual cover up — a few quick brush strokes of white paint to obliterate a long history of treating every other tribe on Earth like inferiors.

Up until very recently, white people in America got away with whitewashing America’s history. Example — though the Confederacy lost a war they started over slavery (according to their own secession documents), they won the peace afterwards by whitewashing their racism into a more patriotic-sounding concern for “states’ rights”. As in “we seceded to protect states’ rights!” Shame “states’ rights” isn’t mentioned in a single Confederate state’s declaration of secession. That bit of whitewashing happened later.

That’s how whitewashing works. White people come out looking better than they deserve to look. The whitewashing hides the truth — of who they are, what they’ve done and (most importantly) what they intend to do having deceived most people into thinking this love of whiteness in our culture was a stone cold fact of life. It most certainly is not.

Try as they have to whitewash American culture, white people keep appropriating every other culture into white culture because white culture in fact craves the “colors” all those other cultures exude. But white hegemony is a hard habit to break. Especially because it’s built so high upon a foundation of bullshit. White hegemony assumes the total superiority of white culture. It assumes white religion is the correct religion. White thoughts are the best thoughts. White art is real art while other art is “folk art”. White music is “music” while “other music” — jazz, for instance — is noise. White hegemony also insists that the only history worth noting in America is white history. No other tribe’s history in America matters.

To white people, that is. They even managed to memorialize this as a fraction: Black people were worth three-fifths of a white person.

White people really have taken that “whiteness” to heart. They really do see purity in it. Brides wear white — because pure. Whiteness says “Life!” while blackness says “death”. The colors themselves don’t say anything. We imposed those meanings onto the colors.

Want to know what scares white people in America more than anything? The words on our own Great Seal: “E Pluribus Unum” Out of many, one. Diversity has always been our secret sauce — what really and truly makes America exceptional because no other country on earth was built by ALL the other nations on earth the way America was. “E Pluribus Unum” beats the crap out of “All men are created equal” because the white men who penned “All men are created equal” didn’t mean “all men” though they did mean “all” (as in only) “men”. America is a great idea as yet unrealized. Because white people.

Whitewashing’s effect on our culture are profound. We revised genocide (wiping out most of America’s native people) as “Manifest Destiny” — the divine guidance by a white deity to spread whiteness across North America. We both enslaved Black people literally then enslaved them indirectly by stealing their voting rights and their wealth. Slavery begins with stolen labor — that’s really the whole point of slavery: to get production’s most expensive cost — the labor to make a product or process it — for free. Housing, food and clothing are a slaver’s “cost of doing business”. We have to assume the value of the stolen labor surpassed whatever the living costs were by a ton because the Confederacy (whose entire economy was built on stolen slave labor) was willing to fight a war over it.

In our whitewashed version of history, Reconstruction never happened; it did happen but Andrew Johnson and the South’s undampened racism despite losing the war killed Reconstruction dead before it could level the playing field for Black people in America. Our whitewashed history wants us to believe that Black people never achieved what white people achieved in America because of their blackness. The truth is, white people in America have always begrudged Black people (or any non-white people) any success here in America. Having political power in their hands, white people have used legislation to enforce their whitewashed version of America onto America.

They’ve used the courts to back up their whitewashing. They’ve used the culture and the media to imprint into our brains.

White people have even whitewashed the language. I don’t know about you, but it makes me laugh (not in a good way) every time the news media bleeped “bad words” from their air whenever they broadcast scenes from the insurrection. That is because white ears are delicate. Having convinced themselves that only “others” use “dirty” words while white people use good words (raising up the language!), we’ve convinced ourselves that words are obscene while actions — like insurrection, sedition and treason — aren’t. But then, I guess if insurrection, sedition and treason are being perpetrated by white people?

It’s no biggie. Hell, the Republicans have already begun whitewashing January 6 — just like they’ve obstructively whitewashed the fact that but for Russia, Donald Trump would NEVER have become POTUS.

Republicans Love Grievance Kabuki

Selling good ideas that people want isn’t nearly has hard as selling terrible ideas that no one except a privileged few would want. The majority of Americans have zero interest in what the Republican Party wants to sell them because the majority of Americans don’t want to live in the distant past — somewhere around 1850 — in what Republicans and white supremacists think of as their “Golden Age”. Regardless of their current political label (the Democratic and Republican Parties have swapped names; modern Republicans are Dixiecrats while modern Democrats philosophically are the “Party of Lincoln”), Republicans no longer stand for anything except racism and naked power lust. The demographic annihilation they’ve feared since the Reagan years has begun. White people — already a minority in states like California — are fast becoming a minority all across America. And that makes Republicans nuts.

What exactly did all those Trumpists mean when, marching in lock step together, they chanted “Jews will not replace us!” in Charlottesville? What did those armed thugs have in mind as they stormed Michigan’s capitol in 2020? Why do all those anti-vaxxers lose their shit when asked even to mask up (never mind vaxx up)? What outcome did the January 6 insurrectionists aspire to? And is there any grievance bigger than someone who cheated vigorously to win an election but lost anyway and whose tender ego still can’t bear it?

Quick side note: Donald Trump’s Grievance Kabuki may be inspired more by fear of treason charges than having lost the election he needed to win in order to never get charged with treason. But, I digress…

Grievance Kabuki is a bizarre pearl that forms inside the racist’s brain. The irritating grain of sand that starts this perverse pearl is an abhorrence of “the other” — anyone that isn’t exactly like him. They don’t believe for two seconds that E Pluribus Unum. But they’re all into “originalism” which is really a schoolyard bully insisting the rules are whatever he says they are. They’re down with the tacit understanding that “All men are created equal” referred only to men and only to white, Christian, land-owning men. No one else was equal to the white man and anyone who says or acts differently is challenging this bullshit orthodoxy.

A big reason evangelicals and other religionistas embraced Grievance Kabuki is because they embrace Grievance Kabuki’s cynicism. Jesus preached “Do unto others” (a good, tight distillation of the foundational Judaic concept “Tikkun Olam” — the obligation of every Jew to make the world a better place because they live in it) which the Apostle Paul (Christianity’s actual founder) and the early church fathers twisted into “Do what we say, or else”. Original sin looms large in this worldview. Regardless of whether they believe an actual Eve ever existed, these fundamentalists think that all human evil flows from women (to them, the lustful, it starts with lust). The whole point of Jesus is 1) to zero out the original sin’s negatives and 2) to give all these forgiven Christians a chance to live forever — just like Jesus is doing. The trick is you have to believe in Christianity’s version of Jesus in the exact, dogmatic way they’re telling you to. And woe is to you if you dare contradict their version of the world!

Feelings over facts. That’s the music playing in the Grievance Kabuki artiste’s head as he awkwardly shifts this way and that, white people having no rhythm. They think louder equals “more right” when louder only equals more loud. And, of course, there’s always their “Second Amendment Conflict Resolution” approach to solving their problems (like people who disagree with them, Black people too successful for their liking or women getting to do with their bodies what they want): you pick up a semi-automatic and the glorious spray of gunfire makes all those problems go away. Or at least, bleed out where you can see them. They don’t want to share power with “others”. It’s the part of democracy they’ve always hated on the down low. It’s the reason they voter suppress and gerrymander. It’s the reason they can shrug off Vladimir Putin being the leader of a crime syndicate with a corrupt government at its disposal as their ally in altering election 2016’s actual outcome (we will get to the bottom of exactly how Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin went red by 78,000 votes combined). Whether it’s violence to deal with personal issues or the political violence of an actual coup d’etat, violence is very much a part of the Grievance Kabuki toolkit.

And, ya know who else loves Grievance Kabuki? Our news media. They eat it with a spoon. Being acolytes of “both sides do it” brand journalism, most American journalists insist that all points of view are equally valid — the good and the bad, the true and the untrue (it’s not for them — journalists — to judge). But it also asserts that all points of view (even if diametrically opposed to each other) are equally valid. Therefore Hitler’s authoritarianism is equal to the Allies democracy. To be fair, that does correctly assert that authoritarian Germans had a point of view. Its mistake is in also asserting that their point of view was as valid as any other. As a Jew, I have big problems with that.

Our news media may have been taken aback by Donald Trump’s Grievance Kabuki when he began his presidential campaign in 2016 by announcing that “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing” is okie-dokie for rich guys like him, but they quickly jumped aboard Trump’s Grievance Kabuki tour bus when it started their “But Her Emails” act. Any other former president — having lost the White House, the House and the Senate — would have hurriedly faded into the woodwork to avoid being harangued by the press. But, Donald Trump needs to be in the White House because, according to that stupid Department of Justice rule that says you can’t indict a sitting president, being POTUS means Trump gets away with EVERYTHING. And that includes turning America from the greatest (semi-flawed) experiment in human self governance into the biggest shithole country in the world.

That, really, is the goal of Grievance Kabuki — an America that looks like 2021 but feels like 1850. I’ve some bad news for my Republican chums: aside from them and their bitches in the American news media — no one else is interested. We ain’t buying tickets to the show. And if the GOP thinks it can shove this show down America’s throat? They’re about to witness a whole other kind of “performance art” — one where America finally lives up to its “EVERYONE is equal before the law (and the law is applied equally”) potential. It’s called E Pluribus Unum. And it rocks.

I’m All For Compromise But The Question Is Who Or What Are We Being Asked To Compromise With?

Relationships are all about compromise. No marriage can survive without copious amounts of it. The bottom line is incredibly simple: if you want any relationship to survive, be prepared to compromise pretty much everything. That means whoever (or whatever) you’re compromising with better we worth the compromise. You will be living with that compromise’s results for some time — for better or worse. Ideally, a great compromise makes no one happy because everyone had to give so much to get a piece of what they wanted. If that something is a successful marriage or business relationship, the compromise will (hopefully) be entirely worth whatever was sacrificed. But not all compromises work like that. Some compromises aren’t compromises at all because one of the two sides never had any intention of giving up anything to get what it wants.

Evil never compromises. Never, ever, EVER. That means when you negotiate with it? You’re the only one compromising. Evil will have remained where it is while you will have moved yourself a little closer to it. No compromise is a bad compromise (from the other side of the negotiating table’s point of view). Our news media, insisting that both sides do it because (presumably) both sides are exactly the same, insist that Democrats negotiate with (and, of course, compromise with) Republicans. In normal world, that makes sense because (at least on the surface) it’s always made sense. But the Republican Party of Saint Ronnie Reagan is deader than Lee Atwater’s soul (which is even deader than Lee Atwater – former business partner of Paul Manafort). The remaining Nixonians coalesced around Donald Trump as did the rest of the GOP as Trump slowly rolled them all up into a massive web of compromise.

While the RW money has never loved Trump, they hitched their wagon to him regardless — even though they KNEW that Trump was owned outright by Russia. As current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it back in 2016 a month before the GOP nominated Trump — as he strode into a meeting of Republican muckety-mucks: “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” No one in a position of authority in the Republican Party can honestly say they had no idea Russia had compromised their presidential candidate. They discussed his being compromised openly. The conversation was recorded even (and heard by the Washington Post writer who wrote the piece!) It is inconceivable if not impossible that the Republican Party hierarchy did not know that Trump was being controlled by a hostile foreign government. If the Republican hierarchy knew then pretty much everyone at least suspected. Secrets of that kind don’t stay secret in DC no matter how hard some people try to “keep it in the family”.

One thing Republicans are good at that Democrats aren’t is marching in lock step. Like right now. Republicans are marching in lock step as they try to destroy our democracy. They march in lock step as they gerrymander and suppress Democratic voters because if they relied on selling their ideas to win elections, they’d lose every election. Republicans march in lock step as they strip away reproductive rights from every woman in Texas. They march in lock step as they rape the environment, ditch all regulation, make peace with COVID-19 and openly plot insurrection. They march in lock step as they try to shove permanent white minority rule down a rapidly diversifying America’s throat.

When our news media clicks its tongue at Democrats for refusing to be “bi-partisan”, what they’re saying is Democrats should negotiate with Republicans even if Republicans are terrorists, seditionists and traitors. Even if everything the Republicans are trying to accomplish was demonstrably evil (as it pretty much is).

In the Warsaw Ghetto — the German Army’s collecting point for trips to Auschwitz — a group of Jews insisted they could “negotiate” with the Nazis. The Judenrat — this council of traitors — took over the job of “governing” the ungovernable ghetto which meant 1) selecting who’d be collected from the ghetto and sent to the camps or 2) betraying any Jews inside the ghetto who were plotting against the Germans (because every time the Jewish resistance acted, killing German soldiers, the Germans retaliated). To the Judenrat, keeping the peace — compromising with absolute evil — was preferable to resistance even if both led to the same terrible conclusion.

I would not compromise with a Nazi, nor with a white supremacist, nor with a Republican. Those three things could all walk into a bar inside one person — and they frequently do.

Show Me A Republican, I’ll Show You A Koch Whore

Here’s a dirty, little secret: having money doesn’t make you smarter than anyone — even if your money bought you a first class education. Harvard and Yale graduate plenty of morons — most of them white — who got in on the strength of their name and connections, got graded on a curve because of donations and graduated because it was always a fait accompli. Being smart and having great ideas is incredibly important , the caveat being that different people are smart in different ways (we don’t value their smarts the same but that’s our failing, not theirs). But not even the greatest idea can get from idea to the idea’s profitable exploitation without plenty of other people making that exploitation possible via their direct contributions. There’s nothing inherently wrong with capitalism. There’s everything inherently wrong with crony capitalism. Our democracy is being threatened as much by crony capitalism as by racism (and racism is at the core of everything wrong with America). And atop the corruptest of the corrupt of crony capitalists, the capo di tutti capo himself is Charles Koch.

Corruption, thy name is Koch

Koch Industries — the engine that powered the Koch fortune — was started by Fred Koch who opened shop as an oil refinery and chemicals business. When Fred Koch died in 1967, his sons David and Charles INHERITED the business. The Koch Brothers expanded into other industries including pollution control equipment and technologies, polymers and fibers, minerals, fertilizers, commodity trading and services, forest and consumer products, and ranching. The businesses produce a wide variety of well-known brands, such as Stainmaster carpet, the Lycra brand of spandex fiber, Quilted Northern tissue, and Dixie Cup. Having been born into oil money, the Kochs have always been generous funders of think tanks that lobby to oppose environmental regulation. In a world that’s rapidly overheating because of all the carbon the Kochs’ businesses have put into the air, it’s beyond disgusting that Charles Koch continues to insist he’s entitled to do what he wants because he’s rich.

Charles and his brother are both libertarians. That means they think Ayn Rand can write — the first giveaway that they have terrible judgment. Libertarianism is all about stroking the individual’s ego. It’s not shocking that the overwhelming majority of libertarians are men. It is a profoundly selfish way of seeing the world. A profoundly self-delusional way too. The rugged individual is nothing more than an overgrown ten year old who thinks “freedom” is “you’re not the boss of me”. He wants all the benefits of freedom but has zero interest in any of the responsibilities.

That’s the thing most conservatives don’t want to talk about when it comes to freedom — the part of freedom that’s NOT free — the responsibilities. There will always be and must be dynamic tension between individual freedom and collective freedom. While the goal is to have as much individual freedom as possible, individual freedom must always be balanced with collective freedom. Too much collective freedom will harm personal freedom. But too much personal freedom will destroy collective freedom completely. That’s where “personal responsibility” comes in. Our freedoms rely on other people respecting ours. If we don’t respect theirs then ours are already compromised.

For the record, “owning” a gun is not an enumerated freedom. Citizens — per the Second Amendment — can “keep and bear” arms if the well-regulated militia says they can. If the militia says they can’t, they’re shit outta luck.

It is a stone cold fact that Koch money is making our environment uninhabitable. It’s killing wildlife and destroying ecosystems. It’s denying the very factors that are costing not just Americans but people all over the globe their property, their hopes and dreams, their lives. Environmental disasters are going to create a diaspora unlike any other humans have ever seen before or inflicted on each other.

And Charles Koch wouldn’t have it any other way. He’ll tell you he “knows better”. The basis for his knowing better (he thinks) is that he’s got more money in his bank account than you. It’s the only fact he’ll set down on the table. He thinks it makes his opinion more right than yours.

Too few people get into public service to make the world a better place. Too many get into it because they see it as the first stop of a money train. They see public service as a way for the public to service them. Ask yourself — how did public servant Mitch McConnell get to be such a wealthy man. Yeah, sure, his rich wife (Elayne Chao) brought plenty of dough to the marriage, but Mitch was a rich man before that happened and Mitch did not come from any kind of wealth. Mitch didn’t invent anything or come up with ideas that could go viral. Even Mitch’s military service was truncated (and why does mentioning Mitch’s military service record and the word “sodomy” make Mitch go quiet?) How did Mitch McConnell become wealthy enough that Elaine Chao didn’t pre-nup a wall around all her dough? The question stands exactly the same if Elaine did pre-nup that wall.

The Koch Brothers and the Mercers (Robert and daughter Rebekah) have always had it in for democracy. It’s simply too unreliable a vehicle for aspiring authoritarians and establishment white supremacists (and there most definitely IS a wide beam of quiet white supremacy in the Republican Party). Their preference is for politicians to choose their voters and not the other way around. As money does in a political system that gives money all the advantages, Koch money has always bought all the influence it needed. As big a problem as all that Koch money is, the much bigger problem by far is the willingness of all those Republicans and too many Democrats to stuff that money into their pockets.

We’re all clear, I hope, that every penny of that Koch money comes with strings if not ropes. It comes with greedy (albeit legal) expectations and none of them is concerned with the common good. They’re concerned with the Kochs getting their way — forever if possible. As the Reagan years waned, the right wing money saw a rapidly diversifying America which meant looming demographical extinction for white power. Being as pragmatic with their politics as they are with their money, the Kochs and their think tanks saw that the presidency was almost entirely beyond Republican reach. Minus Bush v Gore and Russia cheating on Trump’s behalf, the GOP couldn’t win a presidency if their lives depended on it — and that’s even WITH the Electoral College’s heavy tilt toward rural voters and away from urban voters. In the Legislative branch, the right wing money saw hope. The House is too mercurial what with having to run for office constantly. The Senate — also heavily weighted away from the majority of Americans (Senate Democrats represent 41.5 million more Americans than do Republican Senators) — would be easier to dominate. The Koch dollars have flowed accordingly — buying pretty much every Republican vote.

Ah, but Koch dollars — like the Koch Brothers — are very pragmatic. The Kochs always know which Democrats are approachable and which aren’t. Figuring it out isn’t rocket science. They’ve always seen Joe Manchin, despite the “D” beside Joe’s name, as one of “their guys”. As far as we know, Joe has never let his benefactors down. Joe has always behaved like the “Koch whore” the Kochs pay him to be.

“Drop down on all four, Joe! Now bark, bitch — and bark like ya mean it.”

Didja hear that barking sound?

That was Joe Manchin being the dog in the Koch Brothers Dog & Pony show. That was him being a dirty, little whore.

Recipes For Disaster: A Republican Cookbook

The Republican Party wants to force feed permanent minority rule down America’s throat. They couldn’t care less what this will do to America, American democracy or the majority of Americans. The only thing that matters to them is separating every non-white American from their right to vote — like a chef separating an egg yolk from the egg white. This chef has no use for the yolk because it’s “colored”. In fact, if the Republican Party were to publish a cookbook, it’s a guaranteed fact that every recipe in it would be made entirely from inorganic, artificial ingredients that taste like crap, have zero nutritional value and work on our body politic like poison. Every last recipe would be toxic.

The meal the GOP wants to serve up America is a meal America does not want. We don’t want its hatred, its ignorance, its determination to politicize everything or its treachery anywhere near us. We despise how Republicans cook our books and think only white ingredients count. Here then, is a sampling of the Republican “Cookbook For America”, their “recipes” for our future. If ever there was a good reason to stick one’s finger down one’s throat and puke something back up, this is it.

Mitch McConnell’s Southern Fried SCOTUS Hash

When is a SCOTUS seat too fresh to fill? Is it when there’s a year left in a president’ term (as Barack Obama had when he tried to nominate Merrick Garland to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat) or can you fill a SCOTUS seat whenever — even if it’s mere weeks before the newly elected (by a landslide) POTUS takes over? Is it Kosher to shop only judges recommended by the Heritage Foundation when, clearly, those judges couldn’t pass a smell test?

Republicans love turning everything possible into hash. Democracy, for instance, makes a fine hash. So does religion. What makes Mitch’s version of SCOTUS hash especially noteworthy is its distinct Treason Turtle overtones. Some day, Mitch’s name will replace Benedict Arnold’s as the epithet Americans use when they want to call someone a “traitor”.

Kevin McCarthy’s Treason Tidbits

From all reports, Kevin McCarthy wasn’t automatically a fan of Donald Trump’s Treason Platter when he walked in the door and announced to a meeting of other Republican leaders that “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” Clearly, Kevin wasn’t entirely sure what he was serving up. Did the rest of the Republican leadership have the same warm feelings toward treason as Kevin did?

To Kevin’s delight, it turned out EVERYONE IN THE ROOM loved Trumpian treason just as much as he did. In fact, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan insisted that in order to keep the treason tidbits coming, they would have to collectively agree not to talk about their tidbits outside that room. “That’s how we know we’re family,” said the Speaker Of The House, apparently unaware how strong the treason was on his breath.

Kevin’s not alone among Republicans in his adoration for treason tidbits. Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson famously went to Moscow with seven other Congressional Republicans and had dinner there July 4, 2018. Apparently it was an awesome meal! The vodka was iced cold, the borscht was incredibly fresh and the treason was piping hot. It all went down perfectly for every Republican there, dining. They they returned to America and began to shit out the poison — all over the rest of us.

Think of Kevin’s dish as a pu-pu platter made of actual poo.

Republican Rig-atoni

This Trump-inspired recipe doesn’t require any preparation, any ingredients or any even a serving dish to put it in. The whole point of Republican rig-atoni is to insist even before an election’s taken place (as with the Republican-inspired recall in California) that the election was “rigged”. By insisting that every election is rigged — even the ones they win — Republicans hope to create an environment where the flavor of mistrust dominates.

Republican rig-atoni goes perfectly with a rich bullshit sauce.

Barbecued Rights, Texas Style

There’s nothing a Texan loves more than barbecue and there’s nothing a conservative Texan loves more than barbecuing other Texans’ rights — especially if those Texans are other than white, male and Christian. Texan Republicans have had trouble however getting some of their barbecued rights out of the kitchen. “Lib-tard” judges keep sending it back cos it’s not even half-baked.

Ah, but leave it to Texans to get creative about barbecue. They cleverly took “official” judges out of the mix (because official judges can get sued in court and stopped) and made ordinary people not only the “judges here but, in a way, the jury and executioners too. A few other states — having sampled what Texas did — are trying to open their own “barbecued rights” stands.

The goal is overcook everything. Flame it past the point of recognizability. Or logic. Or law.

Guest Post: Top Ten Reasons You Had a Cook Out Fail | Big Wayner's BBQ Blog

David Koch’s Overly Rich Vanilla Sauce

David and his brother Charles used to run the biggest, most well-funded conservative kitchen of all then Charles croaked and now it’s just David overseeing the Koch Industries Corruption Kitchen. The Kochs borrowed most of their recipes from Ayn Rand. That’s a problem because not only couldn’t Ayn Rand cook, she couldn’t write either. I bet even her typing sucked. But conservatives love Rand’s cooking because it’s so old fashioned. A good batch of libertarianism smells of smug, white self-satisfaction. You’ll smack your lips as you eat it, thinking “Hey, you’re not the boss of me!”

Vanilla sauce is all about its whiteness. Step one — remove all color except white. Whisk in more whiteness than let it settle. Whiteness doesn’t like to be shaken or stirred (though it loves erupting violently). It just wants everyone to be exactly how they were back in the 1850’s — when whiteness dominated America, when “All men are created equal” meant just white (Christian, land-owning) men. Republicans dream of the day when they can coat everything forever in vanilla.

Why Being An Atheist And A Jew At The Same Time Isn’t A Contradiction

It took me a while to figure out why I’ve gotten strange looks most of my life when I claim to be both an atheist and a Jew.

Every one of those strange looks comes from non-Jews who have it in their heads that Judaism is equal to Christianity is equal to Islam or Buddhism or Hinduism or any other world faith. And, indeed, one can convert from whatever faith one practices to any of those other faiths — Judaism included. But the only thing one can convert into — where Judaism is concerned — is the religion. One can change one’s way of thinking to to see the world from a Jewish perspective. That doesn’t make one Jewish though in the cultural sense. And that’s what separates Jews from nearly every other ethnic group. We’re not just a religious affiliation, we’re a distinct cultural group whose religion is part of the group’s culture but far from its entirety.

A Baptist may have Baptist roots and the culture they live in can be Baptist out the wazoo. But those Baptists could convert to Methodism or Calvinism tomorrow and that’d be the end of them being Baptists. A Jew can quit Judaism and never walk into a synagogue again for the rest of her life. In the world’s eyes, she’ll never stop being a Jew however. Because what makes her a Jew — what makes any Jew a “Jew” — isn’t their version of God, it’s something deeper than that. God, after all, is just an idea of how we all got here.

In addition to this blog, I have a few others. There’s Mulligan Jesus (which I neglect and shouldn’t) and there’s The Faithesism Project Podcast which I do with my good friend Randy Lovejoy who’s also a Presbyterian Pastor. A few podcasts back, Randy and I had a guest named Dave Wertlieb. Randy and Dave are related by marriage which is how they know each other. Randy wanted Dave to be a guest because (in addition to being Jewish), Dave is an avowed agnostic. Whereas theists insists that “absolutely, there is a God!” and atheists insist “absolutely there is not!” agnostics insist that neither theists nor atheists know what they’re talking about. That is, they cannot literally “know” anything here and both the theist’s faith and the atheist’s un-faith are based on incomplete information. Randy and I both expected the podcast to focus on a discussion of agnosticism (their point of view really is the most honest), it ended up more a discussion between Dave and I about what it is to be “Jewish”. More specifically, about how Dave and I could both insist we’re Jewish while neither of us practices the Jewish religion.

Randy grew up in Texas but then traveled the world as a religious missionary. His attachment to Christianity — though it’s the faith he grew up in — isn’t cultural at all. Christianity is an ideal that appeals to Randy, a vision of the world he agrees with. Of all the Christians I know, Randy has more Jesus in him than most. But, Randy found himself befuddled by both Dave and myself. For starters, though I had never met Dave before the podcast, Dave and I hit it off instantly. That is, we had plenty to talk about including a huge pool of common experience: we’re both Jewish. Randy, at the conversation’s start, couldn’t understand how I could claim to be an atheist — and yet Jewish — while Dave could claim to be agnostic and yet Jewish. Randy was assuming that the bottom line for “being Jewish” was following the Jewish faith.

The reasons WHY Jews were treated as pariahs across two thousand years of European history is a whole set of blog posts unto themselves. Christianity grew on the back of multiple untruths — all of them Paul’s creation. Paul took various Jewish ideas and mythologies and repurposed them for the gentile communities he was grooming across Asia Minor. These communities had no knowledge of Jewish mythologies or prophesies. Whatever Paul created went unchallenged. After Justinian made Christianity the state religion and, as the Catholic Church began to assert its primacy, Jew hatred became a focus because “feelings over facts”.

For fifteen hundred years, Jews were excluded from European society, forced to live separate lives in separate communities. The word “ghetto” is Italian. The first place it ever referred to was the Jewish Ghetto in Venice — that fenced off part of town where the Jews were forced to live. Living apart from Christian Europe for fifteen hundred years, marrying and having babies only with other Jews — not a huge community begin with — caused a Jewish genetic disorder: Tay Sachs disease. Tay Sachs was born in the shtetls of Europe. And Tay Sachs can live inside a Jewish person regardless of how dedicated they are to the Torah.

I recommend the podcast Randy and I did with Dave. Okay — I’m biased. But it really is a worthwhile conversation both because of what was said about being a Jew and about being a person of “un-faith”.

When I say (and I say it at the start of each podcast) that I’m “grateful to Hebrew School for making me the atheist I am today”, I am absolutely not being sarcastic or even mean. I am genuinely grateful because Hebrew school taught me to question even fundamental ideas like where we all came from. To be honest, I’m pretty convinced I dropped from the womb an atheist. Except for a twenty-four period when I was eight and thought I was in big trouble for taking a Playboy magazine to school one day? I have never looked skyward expecting a shoulder to cry on.

History says any shoulder up there is too cold to cry on anyway.

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.

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 to 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 have failed America completely because they drank the “both sides do it” Kool Aid.

“Both sides do it” insists that journalists be completely “neutral”. Theirs is not 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. Cannibal and human victim have equal points of view here. The eater and the eaten are exactly the same. The cannibal’s point is as valid as his dinner’s.

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.

I was sexually molested twice, when I was fourteen, by the religious director of the large northwest Baltimore synagogue where my family belonged. I’ve written about it here. Those criminal acts rippled across my life for forty-five years, causing profound havoc. Fortunately, this demon no longer haunts me — in large part because I stopped seeing it in a “both sides do it” way. I held myself responsible for having been molested. I equated attacker and victim. That, I can tell you, was a bullshit point though it was my point of view.

If I had been so lucky as to have seen my attacker prosecuted for what he did, and if my attacker had been put on trial, both our “points” would have been presented at trial. My point would have been from the victim’s point of view — and it would have been valid. My attacker? What “point” would he make to try and impress the jury that he didn’t do anything wrong? That a fourteen year old boy wanted his attention? The fourteen year old boy would absolutely refute that. That the fourteen year old boy deserved it? The adult version of that boy can tell you absolutely that he did not. The only point my attacker can have or make is that, as he stood behind me on those two occasions, he decided to go with his urges — despite the fact that he knew those urges were wrong and, in fact, illegal.

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.

America Is Literally Sick To Death With Republican Corruption

The most frustrating aspect of watching cable news is when the cable news people ascribe normal, political motives to whatever the Republicans are doing — whether it’s standing with insurrectionists, openly restricting other Americans’ voting rights or committing treason (which is what Trumpism is). For Republicans, the new normal is whatever new low Trump has achieved. That means that for our news media, whatever Trump’s new low is — no matter how anti-democratic or anti-American — that’s the GOP’s new low too. Trump started nailing new lows the day he declared for the presidency. “Mexicans are rapists” should have been the end of his campaign. If not for “pussy grabbing”, maybe it would have been. But, if not for “But, her emails!”, maybe “pussy grabbing” would have done more to finish what “Mexicans are rapists” started.

We’ll never know the answer to that. What we do know is that the majority of Americans are done with Republican corruption. We’ve been done with it for a long time, but — finally — circumstances have pushed them to such an extreme that they’ve pushed us to an extreme. The 2018 election should have made the point to our news media that ours is now a woke electorate that appreciates American politics for the contact sport it is. Americans standing in line for hours in 2020 should have been a sign (along with the growing number of Americans actually voting) that we are not living in the past when less than half of America voted — and Black, brown, Asian, LGBTQ and women voting for women’s issues weren’t a collective force to be reckoned with.

Our news media reports the past to explain the future because it’s easier than looking at what’s happening in the present. And the present says something entirely different will happen.

Because the American news media began and existed mostly as yet another bastion for white, Christian men, its over-riding view of the world remains a white, Christian male view. To them, that is a level playing field — a field filled with just them. The power shift away from their level playing field to one that’s actually level is happening albeit too slowly for our collective good. That’s why “Mexicans are rapists” and (especially) “pussy grabbing” didn’t end Trump’s presidency. The news room sensibility is still male above all. If it was female, I bet “Mexicans are rapists” would have gotten a much bigger reaction. I know “pussy grabbing” would have ended Trump right there.

And “But, her emails!”? That wouldn’t even have registered.

Republican corruption is white, male and Christian. It serves the needs of white, Christian men — and, at the moment, is driven to give white, Christian men permanent power over American politics and American lives. Keep in mind, if the majority of Americans wanted the same thing? These white, Christian men wouldn’t have to gerrymander, suppress Democratic voters or conspire with Russia in order to win an election. But, alas, the GOP DOES have to gerrymander, suppress Democratic voters and it HAS conspired with Russia in order to make Donald Trump president in 2016.

It cannot possibly get more corrupt than that.

Still, our news media insists that 2022 — being an off year election — whatever happens in every off year election will happen in this off year election because this year is no different than any other year. Except, of course, this year is literally like no other. A few weeks ago, our news media insisted that Larry Elders would soon enough be California’s next governor. The news media insisted that Californians not running around like crazed zombies meant they wouldn’t show up on election day and vote down this anti-democratic horse shit recall election. But, Californians did show up in large numbers and they decisively told the Republican Party to go eff itself. California is deep, deep blue — not for political reasons but because our values are progressive and we vote accordingly.

Progressives have a much harder time being corrupt than conservatives do. That’s because conservatives are trying to hold onto something — the past. They’re trying to hold onto power and money. That is what motivates corruption — a fear of losing money and power. Corruption means to hold onto both forever.

Literally everything on the Republican agenda is corrupt, starting with their criminal determination to ignore the results of election 2020. It is corrupt to say that any election you lose is corrupt. It’s corruption projecting.

Any day now, a legal bomb could drop on Donald Trump’s head. Georgia could indict him for election interference. New York could indict him for tax evasion and other financial crimes. At any moment, the DoJ could pierce the veil protecting Congress members from indictment for their roles in the January 6 insurrection. Those charges are coming — we all know it. So do those members of Congress. And charges will come shortly thereafter connecting Trump himself to the insurrection’s planning. End of the day? What happened on January 6 depends on what happened during the planning that went on January third, fourth and fifth.

That’s more corruption.

The reason our news media isn’t sick of corruption is that corruption is their meal ticket. You’d think they’d be better at sniffing it out and covering it. Of course, some are — and we as a nation are grateful. It’s all the others who should quit the profession. They’re simply not suited to journalism — or storytelling in general. They think everyone’s corrupt.

We’re not, of course. That’s why corruption is such a problem for those who aren’t corrupt. Not being corrupt, we detest what corruption and the corrupt do to our normal lives.

As goes California, so will go most of America. We used to be deeply red. Now? Republicans can’t get arrested in most of California. They definitely can’t get elected as governor — even under the bizarro-world rules of a California recall election.