God Goes On A Job Interview: A Sketch

SETTING: A long, featureless, fluorescent lit hallway that seems to go on forever. Approaching footsteps and heavy breathing. Whoever’s approaching must be late — and worried about it. God steps into frame, a slip of paper clutched in his powerful (to hear him talk about it) hand. He peers at the number scribbled on it. It matches the room number above the doorway. This MUST be the place.

God straightens his tie. Gives his mighty (him again) head a shake as he clears his throat in a long roll of thunder. The timbre seems right. Reminding himself that he’s the one who created all this in six days damn it, he reaches for the door knob and steps into the next room like the monotheistic deity he is.

God comes up short on the other side of the door though. He wasn’t sure what to expect here. A respected bible scholar trying to make sense of unfathomable times or a world leader struggling with a terrible choice. Or a pope maybe. He definitely wasn’t expecting the attractive but business-like young woman seated across the very plain desk, a clutch of papers in her hands. From the look of the papers — the extensive wear on them, the young woman has gone over them relentlessly.

Like she was looking for answers on them. “Sheila,” she says, extending her hand toward God like he wasn’t the deity who created literally everything.

“Erm,” says God, uncomfortable but trying not to show it, desperate to do anything but shake her hand. The Young Woman has seen his discomfort. She withdraws her hand, never taking her eyes from his face. Finally his eyes meet hers.

“Sheila,” she repeats. “I’m Sheila.” She points to the folding chair on his side of the desk. Sits in the much more comfortable rolling desk chair on her side. The one with lower lumbar support.

God looks again to the folding chair, not quite sure how to fit his enormous, glowing magnificence into it. But, he’ll try. He reminds himself again, he’s the deity here. “Nice to meet you, Sheila,” he says, smooth as the Red Sea before it parted, “I’m God”. He sits, knowing it’s just a matter of time before he wins over Sheila–

“I know what job you’re here for,” she’s halfway through saying as God snaps to, “But god’s just your job description. It’s not actually your name.”

God starts to answer. Stops. “Well, over time, I’ve gotten used to it. We all have–“

Sheila’s looking at her smart phone. She’s found a source. “Says here your name’s Yahweh.” Sheila focuses on the fine print. “Yeah,” she says confidently, “Yahweh’s your name, not ‘God’.” She points her phone’s screen (with the “receipts” on it) toward God. “God’s” just your job description,” she says. “Is that true?”

God starts to answer. Stops. “Well, I did create everything,” he says, a little less ironically than he’d hoped to. “And that,” he says, leaning forward, “Is why I think you’d be crazy to believe in anything else but me.”

Sheila stares back, hard to read. Finally — “You probably know that members of my family believe in you”.

God leans forward even further, seizing the opening. “Of course I do. They’re great people. That’s why I love them–” He knows immediately: too much.

“Do you think my family believing in you speaks well of you?”

God hesitates. He’s sure of it: that was a trick question. “Perhaps,” he says, hedging, “We could agree that being a deity is hard and sometimes you have to move in mysterious ways?”

“Uh huh,” says Sheila, unimpressed. “Did you tell my Tanta Louise that she got cancer because she fooled around so much when she was younger?”

God starts to answer. Stops. “Erm,” he says (looking as uncomfortable as he feels), “Was I supposed to get some sort of notes about this?”

“You’re God, aren’t you?” says Sheila, making God feel much more like he was on a witness stand instead of a job interviewee’s chair.

“Is that a question?” asks God.

“Then you’re all-knowing, right?”

God knows exactly where this is going. He rolls his eyes. “There’s ‘all-knowing‘ and there’s “ALL-KNOWING“, know what I mean?” He hopes like hell the extra boom in his voice took a little of the wind from Sheila’s sails.

“So you don’t know my Tanta Louise or, at least, you don’t remember her, is that right?”

God studies his hands. They don’t feel very mighty right this second. His cuticles are looking rough. “What was that again your…”

“Tanta. Tanta Louise. She was my favorite aunt. She taught me how to live. But, smart as she is in some ways, she makes no sense in others. Like believing you gave her the cancer that nearly killed her.”

God squirms despite himself (flashes of lightning shoot this way and that). “Can we… talk about… you?”

She stares back, a little incredulous.

God presses on. “Things were different back when your beloved auntie was trying to figure things out. It’s true. People weren’t as broad-minded as they are now.”

“By ‘broad-minded’, you mean they don’t believe in you?”

God looks down. Stepped in it. “Now that door’s open,” he starts to tell himself–

“Oh, for Christ’s sake,” says Sheila. God raises a hand to object. “Don’t,” says Sheila crisply. Down goes God’s hand. “Do you honestly think if no one mentions atheism that no one will think it?”

“It’s a little more complicated than that.” God looks down. Clears his throat — this time holding back on the rumble. “Know what special dispensation is, right?” He knows she does. She’s Catholic. “I’m taking it,” says God. “Different time and place.” He catches Sheila’s eyes. Holds them. “I, uh — I think I might remember this aunt of yours and, yeah — I might have said something along those lines — but there was context!”

Sheila and those damned eyes.

“She needed an explanation.”

Did you give her the cancer?”

“What? No!” Suddenly God’s all knowing: “The office building she worked in was on a super fund site. Honestly, it wasn’t my fault. I’m sorry I said anything–“

“You couldn’t tell her the truth?”

“Nobody knew it then — Google it!” God sits back a little. Feels the first hint of breathing room. “Google it”, he chuckles to himself, “Man, that was genius.”

Again with those damned eyes.

“Are you all knowing or aren’t you?”

God’s been in this minefield. Doesn’t make it any easier. “Depends”.

“When my Tanta Louise asked you why she got cancer, did you tell her it was because of the building she worked in? No. You told her a lie — even though you knew the truth.”

God sits back in his metal folding chair. He tries to. Finally, he fixes Sheila with a stare of his own. “You’re very good, know that?”

“I’ve thought about it, yeah,” says Sheila. “I’m thinking about it now. What should I believe? What seems most true to me?”

“And that is why — if you’re looking for Truth, you can’t not go the monotheism route — sticking a pin in your Tanta Whatever — not literally of course!” Her eyes say “continue”. “Go with me here,” he says, kicking into full salesman mode, “Take it from a deity — all those other deities? They’re not deities. The don’t think they’re better than you, for one thing!”

He turns up his palms. Slowly realizes his faux pas. “What I meant was polytheism’s small because all its gods are small. You don’t want to believe in a small god, do you?”

“Why should I believe in any god?”

“First cause,” says God, throwing down the words like it ended the argument.

“Bull-shit”, says Sheila. “Where’d YOU come from then? Who created you?”

“Nothing did, don’t you get it?” says God. “I’m the first cause. The alpha, the omega, the beginning, the end, the peanut butter and the jelly.”

“I’m allergic to peanuts”

“Figures,” God starts to say, catching himself immediately. “What I meant was I know you’re allergic to peanuts because I know everything.”

“What’s on the other side of a black hole?”

God hesitates. “What’s–“

“On the other side of a black hole. You know what a black hole is, right?”

Pride a little wounded: “Yes, I know what a black hole is, I invented them, right?”

“If you invented them then you know what’s on the other side of one, right?”

“Well…” God stammers, “Some of these inventions of mine — they’re works in progress, know what I mean?”

“They ‘evolve’, you mean?”

“Exactly,” says God, not catching himself in time, “They evolve.”

To God’s surprise, Sheila smiles. “I’ve come to a decision,” she says, standing. God, feeling like he’s being led here, stands as well. “I’m not hiring you,” says Sheila.

Not the first time this has happened (especially not recently). God lets it roll off his shoulders. “You don’t have to decide anything today,” he says — having answered this objection a few kajillion times before.

“I don’t have to decide anything ever,” says Sheila. She sits back. Studies God. Starts to laugh — not at God, not at anything in particular. Finally, the laugh peters out. “Even if, some day, I decide to look you up,” says Sheila, “It wouldn’t be you that I’d be looking up. It’d be someone better. Something better — a better God, know what I mean? But that’s only if I felt like I needed to believe in a God to begin with.”

“Can I tell you how sorry I am that I lied to your auntie?”

“If I was going to invent a god,” Sheila says, indicating the door behind God, “I’d hope like hell I could invent a better god than you.” Sheila extends a hand. “Good luck in the future.”

God looks at her hand. He knows that she knows he isn’t going to take it. And just like that, he knows: he made her point again.

“Thanks for coming in.”

Let’s Talk About Dogma & American Journalism

On the “Faitheism Project Podcast” I do with my dear friend Randy Lovejoy — a Presbyterian Pastor — we draw a distinction between spirituality and religion. Everyone — atheist, theist or agnostic — experiences awe as we gaze up at the cosmos. We are all very much connected to this massively huge universe. That relationship between each of us and the universe — that’s our spirituality. Religion attempts to quantify and codify it: “Here’s how it’s done!” If you want to experience the promise the religion swears will be yours, first, you’re going to have to follow the rules. The religion’s rules. Want to be a good Catholic? Do these things we tell you to do — or we’ll adjudge you an apostate and deny you even exist. Dogma quickly overtakes the spirituality it’s supposed to service. The next thing you know, the dogma gets all the attention while the spiritual quest gets nada.

American journalism works the same way.

The Constitution mentions only one occupation that isn’t an employee of the US government: journalism. Journalists were imagined as the final check on power. The Peoples’ backstop. That’s the spiritual mandate journalism in America is supposed to follow. Occasionally, that dedication to the Truth produces transcendence like Woodward and Bernstein’s Watergate coverage or the 1619 Project. But, too often — way too often — American journalism surrenders its integrity in the name of “access”. That only happens during Republican admins by the way. The George W Bush White House got good at limiting access to “journalists” like the New York Times’ Judith Miller. Judith genuinely believed (still does) that she didn’t sell her soul to gain access to Dick Cheney. I’ve seen picture of Judith’s soul — sitting in solitary confinement. She sold it all right. Sold it all the way down the river.

Dogma naturally produces cynicism because it breaks the world down into them v us. Anyone not us — that’s a lot of people — is suspect. American politics are steeped in cynicism but not because “both sides do it”. Both sides are not cynical though Democrats should have been cynical about Republicans eons ago. That’s the Democrats’ recurring problem — like the news media, they keep giving the benefit of the doubt to a group of people not deserving it.

They do that because of the dogma that says “everyone’s opinion carries the same weight” or the one that says “the news media’s job is to remain eternally neutral”. Or the one that says “Republicans are better with money and the nation’s security”. Or “Republicans are the party of personal responsibility” or “The Party of Lincoln” or even just “honest actors”. Our news media has been telling us our story but through dogma’s lens. None of those dogmatic assumptions are even remotely true.

Donald Trump’s rise was entirely dogmatic. But then, everything the Republicans do is dogmatic because their end game demands it. You can’t get to permanent minority rule without rigidly adhering to a plan — and the state of permanent minority rule will be a whole rabbit hole of dogma. It became dogma that Trump’s hold on the GOP has everything to do with Trump’s base. It became dogma that a former Trump hater like Lindsey Graham “changed his mind about Trump more or less ‘just because’.” It became dogma that Trump was crafty — that’s how he avoided going to prison before this. That Trump was the “great businessman” and “negotiator” he said he was. That horse shit flavored dogma got invented by “The Apprentice”.

It became dogma that what Trump and the GOP were doing to America’s democracy was just their “opinion” being manifested as opposed to what it was and is: a criminal act being committed for a political purpose.

It became dogma that every time the Republicans did something for their political reason, the Democrats’ reaction was equally political. When Republicans suppressed Democratic voters, that was just Republicans “being political”. No. That’s them BEHAVING CRIMINALLY — denying other Americans their Constitutional right to vote.

It became dogma that we should stay in Afghanistan forever. That the lives we’d risk by staying there were just “the cost of doing business”. It became dogma that everything bad happening in and to Afghanistan more or less started the instant Joe Biden took the oath of office.

It remains dogma that Republicans are good actors — despite their relentless bad behavior. It remains dogma that “bi-partisanship” is a good thing and should be done at all costs. Just because it’s “bi-partisan”. It’s remains dogma therefore that making deals with the Devil are okie-dokie.

American journalism’s addiction to dogma over truth has brought us to this moment where we’re poised at the edge of a precipice. On one side is the very real promise of E Pluribus Unum — an America that lives up to both its potential and its true exceptionalism. On the other is the white people hell bent on destroying the greatest experiment ever in human self government because no one will vote for the America THEY want: the one back in 1850 where THEY had all the power.

Power creates dogma, too. It’s the hardest dogma to break. Imagine if our news media both understood and relished the job they committed themselves to do — BE the last check on power instead of the ones preaching power’s dogma.

As Texas’ New Abortion Ban Proves, Right Wing Religionistas Don’t Believe IN God, They Believe They ARE God

No words are more darkly ironic than “pro-life” when seen through the lens of American politics. It’s kinda like the southern states claiming — after the Civil War — that the whole thing was an argument over states’ rights rather than what it WAS an argument over, slavery. The Confederacy still lives, having lost the war but won the peace that followed. They literally rewrote history right in front of us. The most vehemently pro-life also are the most vehement when it comes to denying living, breathing people an iota of human sympathy. These institutionalist Christians have perverted “Do unto others” into “Do what I say — or else”. Not an ounce of Jesus in it. That’s because Jesus wouldn’t recognize the sentiments behind it. He was born a Jew, lived his whole life as a Jew and died a Jew, only ever preaching to other Jews about subjects Jews understood and non-Jews didn’t. His biggest teaching (aside from reminding his fellow Jews that they’re all obligated by “Tikkun Olam” — the responsibility to make the world a better place for having been in it; “Do unto others” is the genius ad slogan for that very human ideal — is anti-corruption. He taught that one doesn’t need a temple or its corrupt priests in order to talk to God. All one had to do is talk to him .

Jesus did not invent Christianity, Paul did — and Paul deserves most of the credit for modifying some old Jewish ideas into a new religion which offered its believers (gentiles with no knowledge of these old Jewish ideas) a way to beat death. If Jesus could do it, so could his followers. All one had to do, the early church said (as it slowly figured itself out) was believe in the Jesus story the way the church wanted you to — to the letter. Do that and, the church promised, just like Jesus, you would “rise from the dead” like Lazarus and live forever in a magical after-life filled with nothing but goodness and all your loved ones. To a world where polytheistic gods had little real impact on human lives — and really didn’t give a toss about humans — a monotheistic deity that cared about them personally was a revelation and a radical, new idea. That this deity could also give you immortality of a kind? It’s genius! But, that it’s still with us is, my opinion, more a testament to the underlying desire not to die than it is to the “truthfulness” of the dogma that gets a believer there.

Who gets to control life and death? Why, God does of course because that’s what God does. The fact that God — a being powerful enough to create literally everything — can’t put that simple idea into literally every human’s head (because aren’t facts facts?) gets tossed down the “free will” rabbit hole. The same institution that invented the idea of “free will” also insisted that the earth was the center of all creation until pretty much now. I’d stick a giant-sized pin in the institution’s hold on reality.

The history of the church itself — of any church — is a proof that the institution itself (and those running it) think THEY are God. Hey, why do you think God talks to them and not to regular people? Because they’re special, don’t ya know. They hear God better than the rest of us. They “understand” what he wants from all of us, but more specifically from them. God wants them to be the tip of his spear. His enforcer. His spokesperson. His raw intent.

Texas took a clever tack to get their law this far. They made all the peril civil. Now, literally ANYONE from anywhere in America can sue anyone they even suspect of helping a woman get an abortion in Texas. They’ve put a $10,000 bounty on literally everyone in Texas who doesn’t answer the accusation. Don’t appear for the shit show cos it’s a shit show? You lose. The fix is built right in. It’s a way for EVERYONE to play God with the bodies of any woman seeking or needing an abortion in Texas. And — count on this — the point of the exercise is to “lead the way” for other “pro-lifers” who think they’re God to force their Godness upon other people.

Personally, I blame monotheism. This kind of egomaniacal free association with the self as deity is baked right in to the architecture. Ask ten sincere theists what “God” is and you will get ten different answers. That’s not a function of the fluidity of God, that’s a function of the fluidity of the CONCEPT of God. It’s the “Get Out Of Logic Jail Free” card that religionistas always have up their sleeve. Magical thinking and their feelings will trump everything — especially facts.

Hey, when you’re God, you get to say what’s a fact and what isn’t. And, in Texas, you get to decide between life and death.

“U” For “Unvaccinated” Is About To Become The New “Scarlet Letter”

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 what we used to call “sin”. In fact, we’ve gotten damned good at “sinning”. Even the Arthur Dimmesdale’s (he’s the town preacher who’s knocked up Hester) have openly thrown in their lot with greed and lust and gluttony. What is a proud cocksman like Jerry Falwell, Jr if not a prideful version of Arthur Dimmesdale? 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. Though it would still be raging in most of the rest of the world, we would have achieved the herd immunity needed to get our lives and our economy headed back to a new kind of normal. There would have been bumps along that road too. Witness Israel and New Zealand and Australia — places that have fought the coronavirus as intelligently as people can.

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-vax 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 though, ironically, the madness behind such close-minded religious thinking did spread with viral intensity 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 — even if they weren’t clear that the harm in question was being caused by such a thing as a “pathogen”. But, we, on the other hand, DO know that pathogens exist. We DO know what pathogens do and how and why. We KNOW how to protect ourselves from them; that should be the basis for OUR “morality”.

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. “U” for “Unvaccinated” must become our new Scarlet Letter.

The good news? It’s already happening. France and Italy have already begun culling the unvaccinated from the rest of us. Can’t prove YOU were vaccinated? You can’t eat in restaurants or attend any group entertainments like soccer matches or concerts. In a way, an unvaccinated person’s LACK of a “V” (for “vaccinated”) is the new scarlet letter. But, hey — like I said — the unvaxxed don’t see their unvaccinated status the way Hester saw her adulteress status. 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?

Both France and Italy are, currently, facing pushback from the unvaxxed. Riots erupted in Paris yesterday. As the unvaccinated get sick and become a smaller and smaller minority, their ignorant way of thinking will achieve true pariah-hood. They will deserve it.

Pathogens really don’t care what magical thinking motivates any human to NOT protect themselves from the pathogen. Their existence is simple: they need us. Their entire purpose is to get inside us and reproduce. That it kills us is beside the point. Before we expire, the pathogen will have used us to infect countless other humans — replacing their silent scarlet “U” (for “unvaxxed”) with a whole other kind of marker: a headstone.

The Horror… The Horror…

At the climax of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” and Francis Coppola’s take on it “Apocalypse Now”, the character Kurtz (an ivory trader in the book, a renegade military officer in the movie) knows he’s about to die. Kurtz says “…in a whisper at some image, at some vision… a cry that was no more than a breath: ‘The horror! The horror!’.” It’s both Kurtz’s understanding of what’s about to happen to him but also his clear, sudden understanding of everything that brought him to this horrible moment. In the book, Kurtz is dying from natural causes, witnessed by the book’s narrator, the obsessed Charles Marlowe. In the movie, its protagonist Captain Willard, who’s been sent up the Mekong River to assassinate the renegade Colonel Kurtz is about to complete his mission. “The horror… the horror”.

It’s hard not to watch what’s happening in Kabul right now without feeling those words.

The echoes with the end of the Vietnam War are inescapable. The reason it all feels so familiar — terrible images of desperate people scrambling onto or clinging to aircraft aside — is that the reason we were there was, at its core, indefensible. Back in the 50’s and 60’s, our fear of communism caused us to make a veritable ton of bad decisions. Yes, yes, the Soviet Union was a real and dangerous nemesis. But, our black and white view of the world missed all the colorful detail that might have helped us be a little truer to our ideals and savvier on the ground. Alas, we brought a sledgehammer to a brain surgery. We’re good at capturing hearts and minds with our sales pitch, utterly awful at fulfilling the promises made.

There is a reason for that. It’s not “just because”. Nothing is ever “just because”.

The Republican Party has become in pretty much every way America’s Colonel Kurtz — a formerly respected member of the firmament gone completely renegade. If we set aside Afghanistan for the second, the GOP has disappeared upriver on virtually every other topic as well. Voting rights? The Republicans are against them. Getting vaxxed? The GOP would rather die. Literally. Racism? That’s one of the few things this “Party Of Lincoln” is good at — being racists. Then, of course, there’s the issue of Russia. Talk about “The horror… the horror”. But for Russia, Donald Trump would NEVER have become POTUS. Russia literally made Trump president with the Republican Party’s approval and active participation.

The horror… the horror.

Even as he raced to take Regeneron because, though vaxxed he came up Covid-positive, Texas governor Greg Abbott was suing school boards in Texas for insisting on mask mandates. The horror. The horror.

From the get-go, a Republican led America got Afghanistan and the Taliban all wrong. The Taliban, first and foremost are Pashtun, the largest ethnic group (at 48%) in Afghanistan. Afghanistan itself is only a country because the English drew borders around it while thinking they could fuse this intensely tribal place into their empire. Afghanistan got the better of them as it did the Russians and now us. The Taliban are Pashtuns who follow an especially stringent version of Sharia Law (the name “Taliban” means “student”). Western sensibilities dislike the Taliban’s dogmatic approach to women especially. That’s all well and good but waging culture war against other countries is tricky, dangerous and almost always doomed. Especially when you try to do it as an invader.

The Taliban are not natural allies of terrorists or terrorism. In the aftermath of 9-11, when America was saber-rattling at the Taliban’s door because the Taliban were protecting bin Laden, the Taliban were simply following a basic rule of their culture: you do not betray your guests. That’s not say you don’t deliver them to the justice they deserve if their guilt can be proven. That’s really what the Taliban were doing when we demanded the Taliban turn over bin Laden. They were doing a delicate dance, balancing their cultural against justice a thing their faith demands. The Taliban were, in fact, willing to give us bin Laden. All they wanted in exchange was satisfying proof that 1) bin Laden was guilty as charged and 2) they could therefore hand over bin Laden without damning themselves for all time.

We refused to let meet them halfway. That was because neocon chicken hawks like John Bolton wanted to invade Iraq and take its oil. Afghanistan was only ever a means to an end for the GOP. A justification to maintain America on a war-footing and in a war head space. Those things benefit defense contractors and anything that benefits a defense contractor benefits corruption.

We wasted a trillion dollars pretending we could turn the Afghani army into something it could never be: a viable democratic country with a modern economy. Hell, we haven’t yet mastered how to be a viable democratic country ourselves. Worse, we wasted that money as if were oblivious to the fact that our “enemy” was of the same nationality as our allies. Our original mission ended After we chased bin Laden from Afghani territory. Again, please remember — while we were insisting to the world that the Taliban was harboring a terrorist, in point of fact, they were doing something else entirely. They were trying to be both true to their culture and true to justice. We refused to give them any space in which to work.

Let’s also not forget that Donald Trump — working on Russia’s behalf — screwed every relationship we had in Afghanistan’s part of the world. We did not betray the Kurds, Donald Trump betrayed them — because Putin told him to. When Trump held his meetings with the Taliban, he was doing it again, this time betraying all the Afghanis who aided us. Trump set the pull out in motion. Trump set a deadline on our being there. And Trump oversaw the Afghani military’s cutting deals with the Taliban to surrender their superior forces to the Taliban. Make no mistake, the Biden Administration had virtually zero say in what’s happening. They had almost zero say in “when”. This freight train was coming at us fast. This was light at the other end of this tunnel.

The Democrats in this scenario are every bit Martin Sheen’s Captain Willard — repeatedly bumping into corruption as he heads up river to take out (what he sees as) ultimate corruption — Colonel Kurtz. Donald Trump both manifests and embodies every bit of Republican corruption. He’s greedy, cynical, power-mad and over-brimming with hate. He’s racist and bigoted and misogynistic and utterly ignorant on top of it all. He’s like a black hole sucking all the light toward his singularity — a point of such concentrated corruption that, if you were to be dragged over its event horizon, you’d vanish forever into its corrupt maw.

Our version of “taking out Kurtz” must be via criminal justice. We can’t wait for any more elections when we know the Republicans are already well down the road to tainting every election. The point of the exercise isn’t to strengthen democracy or assure any American’s right to vote. It’s to undermine our democracy’s integrity entirely. Can ya blame the Republicans? It’s hard to win elections legitimately if no one wants to vote for you or your ideas. That’s what made the GOP go renegade in the first place. For all their other flaws, their eyesight’s not bad. They could clearly see the handwriting on the wall — demographic extinction.

Virtually everything the GOP has done the past five years has been aimed squarely at ending the greatest experiment ever in human self-government. They do that as an extreme minority (and as an extremely small one) working in direct contravention of what the majority 1) want and 2) VOTED FOR.

Captain Willard understands: there’s no taking Kurtz hostage and marching him home for prosecution. We won’t have that luxury. We’ll have to keep Kurtz alive and talking until the prosecution is fully up on its feet.

It will not be easy. Or satisfying. Or even necessarily democratic.

But, damn, how we already need it.

Fact: The Taliban WANTED To Hand Over Bin Laden But We Refused To Let Them

History will not judge America kindly for its folly in Afghanistan. But, unlike right this second, Joe Biden will NOT bear much of the responsibility for what goes down. This terrible ending replete with appalling visuals of people falling from airplanes they clung to was inevitable from the first second we arrived in country as liberators. Right off the bat, that’s nonsense. It forgets one key fact — WHO exactly the Taliban ARE. Unlike American soldiers, Taliban fighters are all AFGHANIS. They’re Pashtuns — one of the tribes that make up the imaginary country we call “Afghanistan”. During the Soviet occupation, we courted the Taliban (they were called the “mujahedeen” then — same band, new name) we supplied them with money and weapons. The problems arose AFTER the Soviets departed — and the various tribes from the various disconnected parts of Afghanistan all fought each other for power. When the Taliban (“students” in Pashto ) took over, according to the BBC, “…most Afghans, weary of the mujahedeen’s excesses and infighting after the Soviets were driven out, generally welcomed the Taliban when they first appeared on the scene. The Pashtuns’ early popularity was largely due to their success in stamping out corruption, curbing lawlessness and making the roads and the areas under their control safe for commerce to flourish.”

But, that security came at a steep price. The Taliban believed in a very austere version of Islam which they enforced with dogmatic brutality that was especially hard on Afghanistan’s women. Their fate as the Taliban retake power in Afghanistan, horrifies us and justifiably so. But, with the house burning down around us, let’s not forget that saving the house was NEVER an option. It’s understandable to wish we had never set a departure date — as if that action was the trigger for the current chaos; if we’d never pulled the trigger, the chaos would never have happened. That is wishful thinking. We had already drawn down — per the plans and terms the Trump administration committed us to — to three thousand troops. The conceit was that the three hundred thousand man Afghani army would stand up as we continued to draw down.

That did not happen and was never going to happen because, frankly, the Afghanis have always known the Taliban would outlast us. Because the Taliban ARE AFGHANIS. They LIVE in the parts of Afghanistan where they’ve holed up. This has been their tribe’s home for hundreds of years if not longer. But, let’s dig into that a little. The Taliban think of Afghanistan as their home. They believe their home — all of it — should follow the same rules they follow.

Afghans, being devout Muslims believe firmly in certain things about one’s guests, how they must be treated when they reside in your home. For one thing, you cannot just betray them. The Taliban were not fans of terrorism. They said so. Repeatedly. They gave bin Laden cover when he first arrived because, like them, he followed a fundamentalist brand of Islam. But, when bin Laden’s actions caused mass death and destruction, the Taliban did not celebrate. They were appalled by what had happened. But, unlike America who felt certain they knew what the story was, the Taliban — to satisfy their own cultural need for fairness — wanted to be shown the same proof America had. George W. Bush refused to show them any proof. He demanded the Taliban turn over bin Laden.

The Taliban were not against doing that. All they wanted was proof — so that they could justify turning over bin Laden. It was a cultural thing that we refused to acknowledge and refused to understand. Our emotions got the better of us. So did our white person arrogance. This is all background. It’s important because it SHOULD BE the context in which we see the current catastrophe. America set this in motion. We absolutely could have secured bin Laden without an ounce of bloodshed. Now, that would have meant the Taliban never lost power in Afghanistan and Afghanistan would have spent the last 20 years under the same harsh sharia law the Taliban are about to reimpose. That’s terrible — no argument. But — understand — this is a glass house for us. We have zero business casting stones at others who treat women like chattel when that is exactly what happens in parts of Utah and Arizona where fundamentalist Mormons are the dominant tribe.

In those parts of America, FLDS Mormons hide out in remote scrub, having multiple wives who they impregnate like they, personally, were nation building. Anyone who thinks those women have any rights is clueless. Think those FLDS women ever have a shot at educations? Freedom of choice? Freedom PERIOD?

Puh-lease! Imagine now if some sympathetic other country chose to take up the plight of these religiously oppressed American women — up to and including invading Utah. Hmmmmm… I wonder how THAT would go down in the heartland… .

We screwed the pooch big time on this. But the pooch didn’t get screwed today. Today was when we first felt the pooch’s screwing — feelings that will endure, absolutely. But this debacle does not have Joe Biden’s name on it. It has George W. Bush’s name on it. And Dick Cheney’s. And the name of every chicken hawk who enabled these greedy scumbags. After all, it was George W. Bush — with Dick Cheney barking in his ear — who turned down the Taliban’s offer of bin Laden in exchange for the proof we had the buttressed our certainty that Osama bin Laden indeed masterminded September 11. Funny thing? We had it. We had plenty of proof.

But that proof would have caused problems with our “allies”, the Royal House of Saud. As the Beeb put it: “It is believed that the predominantly Pashtun movement first appeared in religious seminaries – mostly paid for by money from Saudi Arabia.”

Gosh… how much world wide pain and suffering — how much American pain and suffering — can be laid at the feet of the rulers of Saudi Arabia? Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi could be the whole world’s poster person.

Our actions in the Middle East are always colored by how the House of Saud will react. This needs to stop right here, right now.

True Fact: Life is way more complicated than any headline can contain. History is even more complicated. You can report the present with minimal sense of the history that got us here for only so long. Eventually, people will realize you’re full of shit and talking about a world that, if it ever existed, existed so long ago that it’s utterly irrelevant now. Therefore, what the hell are YOU talking about? Context is everything. I didn’t know until this past weekend that the Taliban weren’t the intransigent protectors of a terrorist that I’d been lead to believe. That information was out there — the articles I’ve sourced in this blog are all mainstream news sources who published this information as it happened.

As much as I’d love to hurl still more invective at our god-awful news media (they deserve it!), I can’t right this second because I find myself suddenly realizing we’ve worn the same shoes.

I always had access to this important information that — once I read it — directly impacted my understanding of Afghanistan. I just didn’t know this piece of information existed. But, once I did…

Our news media always has had access to important information about Donald Trump that, had they known it, probably would have directly impacted their understanding of Trump and what the past five years have really been about. The money behind conservative newspaper The Washington Free Beacon backed Mario Rubio in 2016 which is why they hired Fusion GPS to do oppo research on Marco’s behalf so as to undermine Donald Trump. While, in time, the cost of this ongoing research would be picked up by Democratic voters, when the Republican money was financing it, the research uncovered such a wealth of damning information about Trump (and how he used his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money) that Fusion went and subcontracted the Russian part of the research to the Westerner with better sources inside Russia than maybe anyone: Christopher Steele, former head of MI6’s deeply respected Russia desk. That’s per Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson’s Congressional testimony on August 22, 2017.

It takes a lot of moving parts to make a tragedy — and every tragedy is entirely personal to everyone it consumes.

Our news media are icing eaters in a world made of cake. They’re easily distracted. What’s worse, all those dreams of Pulitzers and Peabody’s have wrecked their ability to focus. They can only hear their own uninformed, clownish, perspective-free questions. Sadly, most of our news media really do cynically believe that “both sides do it”. That’s their lack of perspective speaking. And their love of access journalism.

I’ll grant the news media this: our times transcend any journalist’s ability to capture it in their reporting. Between rampant corruption, worldwide pandemics, right wing power grabs, American white supremacist terrorism, international organized crime, Donald Trump’s many acts of treason and climate change, there are a multitude of stories to cover, each with their own dots to connect. Ah, but what if some of those dots from those various stories connect? What if — contrary to our news media’s view of events — everything happens for a reason and never “just because”?

The Trick To Defeating Republicans In 2022 (And Beyond) Is To Call Them What They Are: CRIMINALS

I’m old enough to remember when the GOP was one of America’s two principle political parties. Now there’s only one — the Democrats. The GOP can no longer honestly call itself a “political party” because the GOP can no longer honestly do ANYTHING. That’s not a small detail. It’s not exactly a secret either. The Republican Party with two or three exceptions stands one hundred percent with Donald Trump. Never mind a few self-serving votes here and there for infrastructure dollars — despite Trump’s demands that they vote down all infrastructure. That’s pure political cynicism at work. The fact is, they still stand with Trump. Whatever Trump wants to do to their party, they will let him. They don’t have a choice. Yeah, to a degree it’s fear of being primaried by someone even more Trumpified than they are. Anyone with integrity would stand up for what’s right; at the very least, they’d do everything they could to uphold the oath they took to protect and defend the Constitution from all enemies foreign AND domestic.

In America, what do we call someone who’s either broken or refused to uphold the oath they took? Frequently, we call them “the current officeholder”. We call them that because there’s no actual penalty for violating one’s oath of office. Funny thing? There’s supposed to be: removal from office. If the act they took that violated their oath of office broke any kind of local laws, then they might face legal jeopardy. As we know from common experience, plenty of politicians violate their oaths of office. Pretty much none of them ever get removed from office for doing it. Gosh, could THIS kind of baked in corruption be one of those reasons Americans have grown cynical about our politics?

We’ve enabled our political class to all nod and wink at each other as they take their oaths of office: “We all understand that this activity is pure kabuki and we all understand that none of us will ever confess that truth”. That is fixable and we must fix it. But, alas, now that the doors have been thrown open to corruption, it’s going to be hard to close them. It’s just easier to be corrupt than to maintain one’s integrity. To maintain one’s integrity, one must deny every greedy impulse one has. One must place the greater good above the good of any one person — including oneself. Like I said — it’s no picnic. The rewards are more subtle than the creature comforts greed provides.

Part of our problem in telling this story is our news media’s inability or unwillingness to differentiate between Truth and bullshit. “Both sides do it” journalism is, by its nature, deeply cynical. It’s also profoundly wrong. Both sides do not do “it” because the two sides are, really, nothing alike. Yes, both sides have their points of view, but both points of view don’t carry equal weight. A point of view based on good, solid data and logical, reviewable analysis has earned the right to be accepted as “truthful”. A point of view based on feelings, conspiracy theories, Fox News and QAnon drivel is drivel. The two things are NOT equal. If you could hold them in your hand, you’d get it: these two things are not even remotely the same thing. But, when, as our news media does, when they give credence to bullshit, bullshit becomes truthful. They’re saying clearly of something they know is bullshit “It may sound like rot, but (“both sides do it” after all), under some bizarre, imaginary, pretzel logic circumstances, it could be the truth and for that reason, we must give it credence as if it is the truth”. Um, no. Bullshit is always bullshit. It’s never the truth. That’s why it’s bullshhit.

We need to get it into our heads that there’s no such thing as a person with 99% of their integrity. Integrity is an all or nothing proposition. Either you have it or you don’t. We’re all born with one hundred percent of our integrity intact. Here’s the problem with that: that is all we get. It surrounds each of us like parapet made of gossamer. If we dig in our heels once under attack — if we make defending that parapet everything — that gossamer will hold fast like titanium. On the other hand, if we waver (worse, if we give in to corruption), that gossamer will have already dissipated into nothingness. The very instant one’s integrity gets dinged, either one addresses the ding immediately or, in time, that one ding will become two and then four and then eight et cetera.

Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walks around with literally zero integrity. That’s been the case his whole political life but it became demonstrably factual on June 15, 2016 when Kevin — a month before the GOP convention where it was already a foregone conclusion that Trump would be their nominee — entered a room of GOP leaders and said out loud “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” At the same time Kevin lost his integrity, so did everyone else in that room.

Mind you, this conversation was recorded and played a year later for a Washington Post reporter. No one on the recording replies to Kevin with a horrified “Whaaaaaaat? Kevin — are you sure about this?” No one says “Hey, that’s a problem! We’re about to nominate a guy owned by Russia to be POTUS?” Instead, those assembled go along with then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s suggestion to not discuss this matter outside this room. “That’s how we know we’re family,” said Paul Ryan. If we had video of the meeting instead of just audio, I bet we’d actually see Ryan twirling his moustache as he spoke those words.

What the Republicans did that day was treasonous. That is a stone cold fact. If you even suspect that America is under threat from a hostile foreign power (and a country engaged in CYBER WAR with us is indeed behaving with hostility) then you are obligated to ACT. If you don’t — as the Republicans didn’t — we have to ask “WHY?” Why did Paul Ryan and Kevinn McCarthy and every other GOP leader in the room that June day NOT tell anyone about what they suspected? Why did they lie about “joking” the one time any of them were confronted about the conversation? Trust me: no one there was “joking” in large part because no one there was capable of making a joke. One must be able to laugh at oneself to have a “sense of humor”.

If you can’t laugh at yourself, that means you can only laugh at others. That’s the tell. If you can’t laugh at yourself but only can laugh at others, it means YOU HAVE NO SENSE OF HUMOR. Donald Trump notoriously has no sense of humor. But, you could pretty much point at any Republican and find the same thing: people incapable of laughing at themselves but more than happy to laugh their heads off at others. That’s bullying. And bullies are notoriously unfunny. Because they have no sense of humor. Kevin McCarthy was not joking. He was learning something plenty of his GOP fellow travelers already knew — that Donald Trump was a fully owned subsidiary of Vladimir Putin.

Everything that follows — every lie, every attempt to obstruct justice, every brazen attempt to overthrow the last election’s results — is flat out one hundred percent ILLEGAL. What the Republicans are doing isn’t them “expressing their opinion about American democracy”, it’s them trying to end our democracy — in direct opposition to the majority’s wishes (and that’s not some slim majority either!). This is NOT “political behavior”, it’s CRIMINAL behavior being done for a political reason (to force permanent minority rule down the majority’s throat).

Democrats have a frustrating habit of dithering when they should be acting. We get lost in the weeds because the rules matter so much to us. We don’t feel entitled to fix what’s wrong if we’re behaving wrongly at the same time. We really do value people over profits (unlike Republicans who always favor profits over people) but the evidence of that is harder to discern. The child tax credit Team Biden just introduced (which has already cut American childhood poverty in half!) is evidence of that. That same sense of caution stands between us and calling out Republicans for who and what they really are.

How treasonous does Trump have to behave towards Putin before some intrepid reporter focuses on it? How many times does he have to openly support Russian intelligence over our own or give Putin the benefit of the doubt he never deserved? How many openly obstructive acts must one person attempt on a regular basis before sensible people stop giving that obstructive person the power to obstruct justice? Or the benefit of the doubt that THAT’S what they’re up to?

Donald Trump was the ONLY American president to run for office AFTER having been impeached. He’s the first American POTUS to run for office after having been impeached for cheating in the election he was about to run in! All by itself, that screams volumes. When we get to the moment when we FINALLY say out loud to ourselves that, yes, but for Russia Trump would never have become POTUS, we will be on the road to recovery. For starters, we will have finally said out loud what Kevin McCarthy did on June 15, 2016: Trump is a criminal and because the Republicans did nothing about it, so are they.

Now — what do we do about the fact that the criminal behavior the Republicans STILL are engaging in is TREASONOUS? For one thing, how about we don’t call it what it isn’t: “an opinion”.

Criminals have opinions just like everyone else. Everyone’s got a point of view. But not all point of views carry the same weight. Not all points of view are based on facts and observations. Some points of view traffic in conspiracy theories or cultural-political hackery. That’s not the same as reality or the truth.

America needs to start calling bullshit what it is: BULLSHIT. We need to start calling people who obstruct justice what they are: criminals. We need to reframe how we see ourselves not as two equally valid points of view but as a complex, multi-faceted point of view. Also we need to understand that not all points of view have a “point”. A traitor like Donald Trump absolutely has a point of view — that he’s happy (if not desperate) to share. But, being a lying, rapey, greedy scum bag, his point can only be to justify his awful point of view. His awful, INDEFENSIBLE point of view.

The press keeps reminding us that the common wisdom is that the out of power party (in our case the Republicans) always do great in the first mid-term after a presidential election. That’s almost always the case during normal times. Except these times aren’t even remotely normal. They’re like nothing we’ve ever been through before. America and Americans are more woke than they’ve ever been. For some reason, people wanting to defend democracy isn’t sexy enough for our news media to stay focused on. They like covering crazy people better. And pretending they’re sane.

It’s like covering Republicans like they were honest actors.

Democrats Eat Their Own (Usually) Because They Deserve It; Republicans On The Other Hand…

To every rule, there’s an exception. Andrew Cuomo is turning into one of those. The last time a prominent Democrat not named Bill Clinton faced charges of sexual impropriety of any sort was Al Franken. If Franken’s transgression had surfaced today instead of when it did, I have to wonder if Franken would resign now because the context has changed so profoundly. While the main accusations deserve scrutiny because of who made them (and why — and there was most definitely a “why” unconnected to the acts themselves), there were other women who said Franken made them feel uncomfortable at various times. If Franken was still in office today, those accusations would all have to be heard and if Franken, assuming old school rules of conduct, did indeed cause anyone to feel uncomfortable then apologies would have to be made of course. And so would a commitment to not ever do it again and an even bigger commitment to use the power of his office to help that effort in any way he could. Democrats, for better or worse, are the party host who can’t help cleaning up before the party’s even over.

It simply is not in any Progressive’s nature to worship a person over policy. We’ll remain loyal to a public servant only so long as they truly serve the public. Democrats may produce charismatic leaders (like Clinton) but we never get lost in their thrall the way Republicans have done with Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. It’s simply not in any progressive Democrat’s character to think a person — even Bill Clinton — can transcend the public they’re elected to serve. But then, diversity all by itself makes anything remotely like Trump worship impossible among progressives or Democrats. Too many cooks in the kitchen with too many strong opinions. Democrats are still the rabble of whom Will Rogers said “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”. Exactly so. And that’s exactly why Democrats could never march in lock step with each other the way Republicans so happily do.

And yet, if there’s one thing that will get most (you can never say all) Democrats to line up, it’s moral issues. That’s not “moral issues” as Republicans refer to them (coldly and cynically), it’s actual morality — the foundational kind that you either have or don’t and Republicans don’t. Before New York AG Tish James was halfway through her very detailed, very disturbing report on Governor Andrew Cuomo’s consistently sexual behavior toward women, pretty much every Democrat worth anything was demanding that Cuomo resign. Cuomo’s pre-recorded defense did nothing to change that; if anything, Cuomo’s digging in his heels made it worse. He will be impeached if he doesn’t step down. It really isn’t a question.

The GOP is the White Entitlement & Grievance Party. If they could stop time and prevent the future from ever happening, they’d do it. The view the past — when white men were one hundred percent of American political power — with longing. If they could snap their fingers and bring it all back just like “that”, it would already be our new reality. The only bad behavior, in their eyes, is behavior that interferes with their ongoing coup d’etat.

Republicans have zero interest in the rule of law since the rule of law says they can’t do what they’re doing (because it’s illegal). The advantage to acting like a criminal is that you never have to sweat getting the rules right since, in your mind, there are no rules. There’s just whatever you can get away with.

It would be bad enough if Republicans were just behaving like monsters. Alas, they’re so much more than monsters. And considering what Republicans have done and where they’ve been — would you want their corruption anywhere near your mouth?

“U” For “Unvaccinated” Is About To Become The New “Scarlet Letter”

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” at all times 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 what we used to call “sin”. Even the Arthur Dimmesdale’s (he’s the town preacher who knocked up Hester) have openly thrown in their lot with greed and lust. What is a proud cocksman like Jerry Falwell, Jr if not a prideful version of Arthur Dimmesdale, no longer ashamed of his adultery (takes two to tango, right?), but, rather, 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.”

These days, we’re more inclined to force someone to wear a scarlet “A” because they’re a raging asshole. Which brings me to anti-vaxxers — another “scarlet A”. Were it not for anti-vaxxers and their relentless spew of out-and-out bullshit into the information stream, America would have gotten atop the coronavirus already. Though it would still be raging in most of the rest of the world, we’d have achieved the herd immunity needed to truly get our lives and our economy firmly headed back to a new kind of normal. Let’s be crystal clear here: anti-vaxx sentiment is based on zero science and a clear misunderstanding of how people need to approach science. Because it doesn’t need science to undergird its recommendations, it can recommend anything. It can say anything because nothing is there to check its work.

Hester Prynne’s community had nothing whatsoever to fear from Hester. Adultery was not going to spread like a virus — though, ironically, the madness behind such close-minded religious thinking did. Perhaps in their worst nightmares, adultery had the potential to do what a pathogen can. There’s a big difference between nightmares and reality though. And Colonial Americans weren’t strangers to the harm pathogens could do — even if they weren’t entirely clear that the harm in question was being caused by such a thing as a “pathogen”. But, we DO know pathogens exist. We DO know what pathogens do and how and why. We KNOW how to protect ourselves from them — that should be the basis for OUR “morality”. We KNOW how to keep our communities safe from things that we perceive would destroy them.

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. “U” for “Unvaccinated” must become our new Scarlet Letter.

The good news? It’s already happening. France and Italy have already begun culling the unvaccinated from the rest of us. Can’t prove YOU were vaccinated? You can’t eat in restaurants or attend any group entertainments like soccer matches or concerts. In a way, an unvaccinated person’s LACK of a “V” (for “vaccinated”) is the new scarlet letter. But, hey — like I said — the unvaxxed don’t see their unvaccinated status the way Hester saw her adulteress status. 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?

Both France and Italy are, currently, facing pushback from the unvaxxed. Riots erupted in Paris yesterday. As the unvaccinated get sick and become a smaller and smaller minority, their ignorant way of thinking will achieve true pariah-hood. They will deserve it.

Pathogens really don’t care what magical thinking motivates any human to NOT protect themselves from the pathogen. Their existence is simple: they need us. Their entire purpose is to get inside us and reproduce. That it kills us is beside the point. Before we expire, we’ll likely infect countless other humans — exactly like the pathogen wants us to do. But then, if they had their way, in time every pathogen would replace the antivaxxers scarlet “U” with a headstone.

If You Haven’t Sampled The Faitheism Project Podcast, This Is A Good One To Sample

Our sister site — The Faitheism Project Podcast — just dropped its latest podcast and (okay, I’m biased), I really recommend it.

In “The Faitheism Project Podcast”, a devout atheist (me) and a Presbyterian Pastor (my friend Randy Lovejoy) sit down to discuss spirituality — as opposed to religion. They are, in fact, two very different things. And, once you make that distinction, a conversation about religion becomes less contentious because, as Randy and I keep discovering, all of us, really, are on the same kind of spiritual journey; we just use different vocabulary to describe it. The Faitheism Project Podcast opens up the discussion by removing judgment. It’s not about winning an argument. It’s about discovering our commonality where we least expect to find it.

In this episode, Randy lets his hair down. He talks with remarkable candor about his actual spiritual process — the path that led him to where he is. It’s been challenging in ways both spiritual and physical. He’s been to some pretty remote places, put himself in harm’s way because he truly wanted to help those who most needed help by going TO them and directly helping. We’ve all got a horrible travel story or two in our past — especially one where either food or water and our gut went to war with each other.

Randy’s stories beat anything I’ve got hands down — for which I am grateful.

In this podcast, I also do a tribute to my old boss the action movie director Dick Donner. Dick was my boss back when I ran “Tales From The Crypt” for HBO. Dick — if you don’t know — produced and directed the “Lethal Weapon” movies, “Scrooged”, “The Goonies”, “Timeline”, a gazillion TV shows (back in the 60’s) and the horror classic “The Omen”.

Dick had a theory as to why “The Omen” succeeded as massively as it did. And his theory had something to do with the family Bible that sat in many American homes (unread of course).

There’s also a YouTube version (if you prefer to watch).

Please enjoy!