And How Exactly DOES One “Compromise” With Evil?

Too much of the American news media still has it in their heads that “both sides do it”. Whatever rotten things Republicans do, plenty of reporters, before they get to the rotten things, will remind their audience that it’s not just Republicans who do this rotten thing, “both sides do it”. Got proof?

Do both sides work tirelessly to suppress the other sides voters? No, actually, only one side does that.

Did both sides visit Russia on July 4, 2018 as 8 Republicans did, inexplicably spending America’s Independence Day not with their families but with Russians — for no apparent reason that no one’s ever explained?

Do both sides put children in cages?

Do both sides stand with racists and bigots and misogynists?

Do both sides politicize the wearing of masks?

Do both sides stand by Donald Trump regardless of the clear and evident danger he presents?

Do both sides openly ignore the rule of law & the Constitution? Do both sides happily pour our tax dollars into the pockets of their rich friends while regular Americans spend hours in line at food banks?

Take the current fracas over unemployment benefits to all the Americans who’ve been crushed economically by the pandemic and by our government’s thieving, contradictory, inept & flat out corrupt response to it. Democrats want to maintain the $600/week most Americans receiving that money are now relying on to pay their bills. Republicans wanted to knock it down to $200/week.

Trump, in his executive “whatever’s” signed last night at his golf club in Bedminster, NJ to a room of cheering, maskless golf buddies (well, maskless before the press complained), wanted to give everyone $400. Looks like a compromise, right?

It’s not. A person who needs $600 to pay their bills needs $600. Every bill not paid remains unpaid — and the pressure to pay it mounts.

The Republicans scream that paying people more in unemployment than their unemployment pays disincentivizes them to go back to work. That’s the slave master screaming about his slaves not wanting to be slaves. The fact that $600 means so much to so many people isn’t about people being lazy, it’s about people being horribly underpaid. What Republicans are really afraid of — and they should be — is the lab experiment America is now conducting about economics and reality.

Americans are getting a first hand look at how Universal Basic Income (UBI) works. Unlike a bank, when sustenance income lands in the pockets of a regular person, they spend it. They buy groceries or pay their electric bill. They pay for their kids’ braces or ballet classes. They pay to fix the car or repair the leaking roof. The thing regular people don’t do with UBI? They don’t bank it like banks do.

They don’t hoard it. They use the money and that, in turn, cash flows the economy from the bottom up. Because other regular people are getting paid — their jobs are supported by all that UBI — they pay their taxes and use their money to pay other people for goods and services. UBI is dynamic. UBI — paid at the federal level because only the federal government can do this — is how America will finally get the coronavirus pandemic under control. We need to incentivize people to stay home without fearing they’ll end up homeless.

In a non-pandemic environment, UBI allows people to wait for employment that suits them, suits their skill sets, suits their needs. It makes for happier people, more productive people. Wealthier people. Everywhere they’ve experimented with UBI or systems like it, it has succeeded.

Why would one oppose such a thing? Usually, it’s greed. Greed plus ignorance — especially after one gets to eyewitness all UBI’s obvious benefits. As we now know — also from experience — greed + ignorance = evil. Greed + ignorance also equals authoritarianism. That means authoritarianism = evil. No one with half a brain disputes that the Republican Party has gone full authoritarian.

So — when the yakking heads at CNN & MSNBC get Democrats on their air to interview them about things like the economic support packages the Democrats are pushing vs the packages the Republicans are pushing, those “journalists” go right to the politics of it. They “both sides do it” an argument about regular Americans putting food on their tables. They equate Democrats wanting to maintain the $600/week Americans need with the $200/week the Republicans wanted in the deal as if these were two sides to two legitimate arguments.

Except they’re not. The $600 is a legitimate attempt to deal with real people having real problems.

The $200 (and even the $400) aren’t trying to address anything. They’re just numbers being thrown down on the table as part of a negotiation — AWAY FROM what struggling Americans need and toward what would cause them greater hardship. Never mind the fact that the money in question? IT BELONGS TO THOSE AMERICANS. It does not belong to the politicians trying to withhold it.

What kind of compromise do these reporters have in mind? If THEY needed that money to pay THEIR families, would they feel so “you should compromise because compromise is good”? Would they be cool with looking their children in the eyes to explain that they’re going hungry tonight because “both sides do it”? Would THEY be down with compromising — especially when they know they’re not compromising with a legitimate argument but with a specious, corrupt, cynical attempt to stiff them?

Of course they wouldn’t.

So, why do they think We The People should compromise with evil?

Once we scrub our body politic clean of Republicans and Republicanism, we’ll need to turn our focus on the news media. They have failed us spectacularly. Worse, most of them still don’t see it or acknowledge it. They’re like addicts who still refuse to acknowledge their addiction.

No worries. We’ll throw an intervention.

When they try to make us compromise? We’ll say no.

It’s Time To Admit It — Europeans & European Culture Are BULLIES

There are protests now all over the world in support of Black Lives Matter and their mission to end police violence. That’s remarkable if you think about it. Three months ago, Black Lives Matter couldn’t, um, “get arrested”.

What’s even more remarkable? The protests happening outside America aren’t just protesting what happened to George Floyd and everyone who looks like him, they’re protesting their own contributions to the flourishing of racism across the planet.

In Bristol, England, a statue of slaver Edward Colston was torn from its place and pitched into Bristol Harbor. Colston (1636 – 1721) was, by the standards of his time, a great man. He was a merchant and Tory member of Parliament. He got wealthy (per Wikipedia) “initially trading in wine, fruits and cloth, mainly in Spain, Portugal and other European ports.” When he started trading in slaves — after 1680 — as Deputy Governor of the Royal African Company (the English company that held the monopoly on the English trade in African slaves) — that’s when Colston got rich.

But, Colston also was charitable. He (again, per Wikipedia) was also “a philanthropist, donating money to charitable causes which supported those who shared his political and religious views.” Most of those people lived in Bristol. I wonder if any of the slaves Colston bought and sold ever felt touched by Colston’s charity… The people of Bristol on the other hand felt so touched that they put up a statue of Colston after he died. They put it in a very prominent place — right there by the Bristol Harbor.

The kicker to the story is, someone clever moved the statue’s location on Goggle Maps from where it had been on their map to where it now lies — at the bottom of Bristol Harbor.

In Antwerp Belgium, Black Lives Matter protesters (most of the Belgian, I assume because of the lockdown) tore down a statue of Belgian King Leopold II. Leo was notorious as a colonizer for brutalizing the Congo. The city authorities of Antwerp got a jump on the protesters. They took down Leo’s statues before anyone even asked them to.

As we know from European history, the Europeans have always been incredibly competitive with each other. Though they’ve shared the same continent for a thousand years (and before that as all the scrubby little tribes that “became” French people and Italians and Spaniards), most European countries don’t get on that well with their neighbors.

The English have always hated the French. The French have hated the English and everyone else. The Swiss don’t hate anyone — they just don’t want to get involved. The Italians are only a country because we say they are; they’re really a reluctant grouping of Italian tribes who want nothing to do with each other. Jared Diamond in his brilliant Guns, Germs & Steel postulates that Europeans held an advantage over everyone else because Europe had, under it, the material needed for humans to expand successfully beyond their borders: steel.

Steel allowed Europe to industrialize first. And weaponize. Chinese explorer Zheng He set sail to expand China’s view of the world almost 100 years before Columbus did. He sailed ships that, legend had it, would have dwarfed Columbus’ scurvy little armada. He (per Wikipedia) “commanded expeditionary treasure voyages to Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, Western Asia, and East Africa from 1405 to 1433.

He visited other cultures without dominating them. Without attacking them. Without bullying them.

Chris Columbus? To be fair, Columbus didn’t know he was carrying pathogens more lethal to the people of the New World than any weapon he possessed. Had he have known, he could have saved the brutality — though I bet that wasn’t a bug of European exploration, it was a feature.

Bad enough Europeans brought their germs, guns and steel to the New World (and everywhere else they went exploring). Worse, they brought the faith they’d all taken up — conflicted as they were as to which version was the “true” version. The Europeans didn’t let the supposed core message of their church — “Do Unto Others” — dissuade them from doing unto others what they absolutely did not want being done unto them: massacres.

Europeans massacred native peoples mostly for greed. But also they murdered them because the locals didn’t want to accept the Europeans’ ooga-booga. They had their own ooga-booga, thanks — and it had served them just fine. They didn’t need the Europeans and their hack job on “being good”.

Hey, I grew up Jewish. I know what it’s like to have (European) Christians insist their faith is the superior faith and if you don’t go along, their imaginary friend will beat the living shit out of my imaginary friend. I’ve had those conversations.

Europeans bully because they believe they are divinely entitled to do so. They think their faith — screwy and hostile as it is — is superior to any other faith and that the culture that flowed from their faith — Western Culture — is superior to any other culture. But European Culture started from a false premise — that its faith was “the true faith” and that everything they did was ordained by God himself.

The more intense monotheistic faith gets, the more monotheists seem to think they hear and grasp the word of God. They believe they understand what most others do not. That’s incredibly dangerous because the “God” they’re thinking about exists solely inside their head. There’s a lot of transference that happens there. The ideas of the deity become fused with the self — since the self understands and hears and obeys the deity.

The more intensely some people believe in God, the more likely they are to think they are God. Maybe not out loud. Maybe not even to themselves. But if you think you have a “personal relationship” with the deity who created everything? That’s not coming from him, it’s coming from you. YOU think you have that relationship. Unless you can provide emails or texts — you are alone in this relationship.

When Donald Trump shoved those peaceful protesters out of his way so he could get to a church he wasn’t invited to, he demonstrated every aspect of European bullying live on TV. He lied about why he was doing it. He lied about how he was doing it. He lied about who he was doing it for.

And then — the icing on the bully cake — HE got all bent out of shape when everyone called him on it.

The best way to deal with a bully is to say “No!” to him. “No, you may not bully me”. Bullies hate that — as the fascists among the Europeans always prove. But “No” is the only way. No is all bullies understand.

But they do understand it. It’s time for the Euro-bullies to get their damned knee off of everyone else’s neck.

I’m Pretty Sure Republicans Don’t Grasp Yet How Incredibly Angry America Is At Them, But They Will…

Donald Trump trailing toilet paper as he boards Air Force One. Could the symbolism be any clearer?

Trump’s the poster boy for people incapable of self-reflection. “I alone can fix it” is his own personal testament to the depths of his narcissism. Silly us — we misunderstood what Trump meant by “fix it”.

The Democratic Party is guilty of helping to maintain institutional racism. The GOP on the other hand is guilty of the full spectrum of racism.

Let’s not forget how we got here. Fearing demographic extinction (a shrinking pool of Christian, white male voters vs a growing pool of everyone else), the RW money (the Kochs & Mercers among others) initiated a deliberate attempt to seize political power from the majority and invest it PERMANENTLY in the minority. Though Donald Trump was not the RW Money’s vehicle of choice, the simple fact was Russia had compromised so much of the Republican Party that the money simply threw in with Trump — figuring they’d deal with him later.

Except later never came — and was never going to. The RW Money had learned to hold its nose and ignore all the things they hated about Trump because tax cuts and gutted regulations and crony capitalism run amok. Literally everything Trump has done has benefited himself or his criminal circle and made life harder for every other American including those who support Trump.

We will learn — take this to the bank — that Election 2016 was neither free nor fair. We will learn that the proprietary polling data that Paul Manafort handed Konstantin Kilimnik did, in fact, impact the outcomes of the elections in Pennsylvania, Michigan & Wisconsin. We will learn that cyber attacks did occur on machines in those states. We will learn that if not for cheating in myriad ways (both with Russia and without), Donald Trump would not be president today.

We sorta kinda knew this election night 2016. That feeling in our gut wasn’t just the agony of defeat. It was something “animal”. Something that knew we’d just been buried neck deep in bullshit. Trump has consistently worried about his legitimacy. He’s not a complicated man that way. When he worries about shit — out loud? It’s because he’s “legitimately” worried — as he is about his legitimacy.

He’s not worried “about” his legitimacy, remember, he’s worried about us finding out he’s not legitimate. It’s a subtle difference but important.

I’m the survivor of a sexual assault when I was 14. The survivor of two assaults actually — by the same man. My sense of “feeling violated” is cranked a little higher consequently. My sense of feeling violated is screaming at me. It’s screamed at me since Trump “won”. The man who assaulted me did it while we were doing something else. He continued to assault me WHILE WE DID SOMETHING ELSE — and we carried on doing that other thing as if the assault wasn’t happening.

14 year old me didn’t know what else to do. I couldn’t wrap my 14 year old mind around the juxtaposition of religions education with sexual assault. So I pretended the sexual assault wasn’t happening — and then continued to pretend it didn’t happen for 45 years. But it did happen — and it did kick the shit out of me psychologically regardless of whether or not I admitted it. The assault quietly drove me to the brink of suicide. For real.

I had turned the anger I should have felt toward the man who assaulted me on myself. And then I got healthy. Well, healthier…

I see America going through the exact same process. Our anger goes way, way back. We deserve to be angry at ourselves for allowing slavery to remain acceptable after we became a country where “All men are created equal”. Injustice never goes away. It festers and metastasizes. The anger exploding across America now is the anger we deserve.

But, lets remind ourselves. Both sides don’t do it. Democrats are already making legislative moves to structurally change America in ways that will address those injustices directly. Republicans meanwhile (we haven’t seen their plan as of this moment but we can pretty well guess) will do everything to appear concerned while clearly maintaining the status quo.

What the Republican Party has done and is doing to America is abominable. Their naked racism has blown past the point where everyday Americans can tolerate the institutional racism that feeds the naked racism. But it isn’t just racism at play. Underneath it all is a foundation of greed. The Republicans grabbed for power because they’re greedy.

Having attended more than a few protests where no more than a handful of people showed up, we really did wonder if there even was a point where things got bad enough that everyone else would join us. I’m glad to see there was a point. It sucks that George Floyd had to pay for our reluctance with his life. It sucks that every victim of racist police violence had to pay because we were too comfortable in our privilege to take to the streets and demand that it stop right now.

But America has taken to the streets. Young Americans especially. If they show up at the polls on election day with the same zeal, we might get out of this okay. But, in the meantime, their anger at the world being handed them will suffice. Their anger is our anger. Perhaps it was time we got this angry and this committed to doing something about it beyond just flapping our jaws.

The Republican Party seized America by soft force in 2016. They got away with a coup d’etat that denied the Will of The People. They’ve done things since then that are the diametric opposite of what we voted for. They’ve stripped away rules and norms and ways of doing things that we had no problems with. They’ve put in place conservative lifetime judges that don’t even pass the law business’s smell test (never mind ours). They’ve put their money on using our volunteer military to suppress us into silence.

Good thing the military told them “No!”

Former prosecutor Glenn Kirshner advocates for holding every Republican accountable and i absolutely agree. He advocates also that we look at every single judge that Mitch McConnell fast tracked down our throats. Plenty of them were unqualified. Plenty perjured themselves too during their hearings. That means they’re impeachable. If the Rule Of Law really becomes a thing again? It will insist that we impeach these criminals.

It will insist that we investigate, prosecute, convict & punish them too. Not for any sort of political reason — but because they egregiously violated the Rule Of Law.

Americans are, by and large, fair. We like fairness. Our favorite movies are all about it. And yet, we tolerate unfairness with shocking regularity. Good thing we’re adaptable.

Republicans simply do not grasp just how intensely angry Americans are at them. We’re so forgiving that we forgave Richard Nixon FFS. But you have to “come to Jesus” first. You can’t restore to grace someone who thinks they never fell from it.

But you can get angry as hell at them.

In A Way, The Rule Of Law Is “Do Unto Others” With Teeth

The genius of our Constitution for all its failings — and it’s got some serious failings (it gave all the political power to white men and we’re still dealing with slavery ffs) — is its establishment of the Rule Of Law as its organizing principle. The bottom line for law-making isn’t the whim of some Donald-Trump-like king, it’s a mutually agreed-upon set of rules that go to great lengths to spell out what we can — and cannot — do to each other.

Put another way, the Rule Of Law describes what we can and cannot “do unto each other”.

Do something unto your neighbor that you legally shouldn’t (like, say, murder her?) — the Law will do unto you. The Law — striving for fairness (and wanting to give each of us the chance to do the right thing) — doesn’t look to see what’s in our hearts unless we violate the Rule Of Law. And then it wants to know “why?”

In asking “why” we broke the Rule Of Law, the Law wants to prescribe a cure — not just for the crime itself but for the motivation. Did you kill someone deliberately or accidentally? That’s an important distinction. And if you killed someone deliberately, was violating their rights part of your goal — because violating someone else’s rights is as bad as stealing from their house. You took something of theirs that was theirs. In other words — killing someone is one crime and killing them because of who they are — a thing they have the right to be — is another crime.

You didn’t just kill them, you killed their right to be them.

The overwhelming majority of us want the Rule Of Law standing between us. Our problem isn’t with the Rule Of Law after all, it’s with its unequal application. Like integrity, the Rule Of Law is an all or nothing proposition. You can walk around with 99% of your integrity intact, but eventually that 1% will catch up to you. It won’t say 1%. Corruption grows with coronavirus ferocity. Just like a virus, corruption reproduces inside of us; it needs to infect our cells so completely that we spew its darkness, infecting others.

And a lot of that infection goes on undetected. It’s the most dangerous part of the iceberg, lurking under the surface.

The majority of us want others to do unto us as we do unto them. We want to be treated fairly because we want everyone to be treated fairly and we want everyone to be treated fairly because we want to be treated fairly.

As I often say here, devout atheist though I am, I consider myself a big Fan Of Jesus. He is not the church that Paul built out of the idea of Jesus — the idea of Jesus as Messiah as opposed to Jesus as Teacher with a simple but profound message (Do Unto Others). Even a simple atheist like myself can manage to Do Unto Others without hurting ourselves — or compromising ourselves.

The moral outrage we all feel now like our skin was on fire is our “Do Unto Other” way of thinking colliding with hypocrisy. The people clutching onto power have always preached “Do Unto Others” without every practicing it themselves. Actually, they practice their own perverse offshoot — “Do unto others before they can do unto you”.

One place where the Rule Of Law differs slightly with Jesus is in its approach to “turning the other cheek”. The Rule Of Law says that if someone violated the Rule Of Law at your expense, you don’t have to turn the other cheek. You don’t get to seek revenge on them but you do get to instruct them — by pointing out in great detail what they did wrong — what that will cost them in time and heartache and financial loss — and how they might get better (so as not to do it again). Being human, we haven’t gotten everything about the Rule Of Law right.

As we know — we still haven’t gotten anywehre close to applying it equally.

But, as Jesus would have us do — we strive to be better. No one — Jesus included — ever said doing unto others was easy.

We’re ALL Greedy In One Way Or Another; Our Obligation — Keep “Our” Greed In Check

[NOTE: This blog post is being shared with our sister site “The Faitheism Project“]

Not everyone is greedy for money.  Some people are greedy for love and couldn’t care less about money.

Some of us are greedy for credit.  We’ll take ownership of work and labor that we did not do.

Some are greedy for other peoples’ joy.  They can’t bear to see any one else experiencing pleasure when they’re not.

Some people are greedy for power.

We still live in the shadow of the movie “Wall Street”‘s Gordon Gekko.  “Greed is good”.  Funny thing, for a while there, America believed him.  The Republican Party still does.   I won’t get political here; that’s what my “How To Live Bullshit Free Blog” is all about.  But greed is the bottom line in America right now.  We now know that the Trump Administration made a “trade deal” with China that 1) lets them off the hook for covering up the fact that the coronavirus was achieving pandemic status inside China (that virus broke into humans is a whole other question), 2) gives Trump much more favorable terms on the rents the Chinese pay him in his various real estate ventures (this is so corrupt it’s breath-taking!), 3) gives Trump leverage on the giant balloon payment he personally owes the Chinese shortly (our foreign policy is based on who Trump owes money to!) and 4) had Trump sending all our PPE’s to CHINA in February & March — while OUR front line health care workers begged for them AND DIED because they DIDN’T have them.

Greed is literally lethal.

And we’re all guilty of it — in one way or another.  The trick is — most of us learn how to keep our greed (whatever it’s for) in check.  At least, we keep it in check enough so that our loved ones don’t strangle us.  Still — it’s our obligation.  And it starts with recognizing that we’re “guilty as charged”.

Greed, at its root, is a survival strategy.  If you don’t know what tomorrow brings and you may never eat again — that whole woolly mammoth carcass is staying right here, pal!  But we know, most of us, where our next meal is coming from.  Those at the top have the least cause to be greedy.  And yet — they always seem to be the greediest.

Our coronavirus pandemic experience will change us profoundly.  There’s no way around it.  The only way out, going forward, is “progressive” in nature.  America will have to become more socialized.  As we now know — it only takes ONE sick individual to infect the whole world.  And if no one knows that it’s happening — because the sick person can’t afford health care?  We’re off to the pandemic races again.

And — don’t forget — the damage we’ve already done to the environment via climate change will itself introduce pathogens into the human environment that humans have never encountered — those pathogens having been frozen into the permaforst for tens of millions of years.  It will be like Jurassic Park — except the prehistoric creatures rampaging will be microscopic and the place they’ll be raging through will be our bodies.   We need to plan for pandemics being a “way of life”.  That flat out demands a socialized medical system.

America, right now, doesn’t have a health CARE system.  We have a health INSURANCE system.  It’s not the same thing.  When anyone walks in the door, needing help, our first question isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?”  That’s because we have profit incentive at the heart of our “health care system” and profit incentive & health care are mutually exclusive propositions.  There are reasons no other civilized country has profit incentive in its health care system.  Covid-19 is the reason.

The reason WE still have profit incentive in our health care system?

Let’s all say it together: GREED.

I Grew Up In The Shadow Of The Holocaust

It’s National Holocaust Remembrance Day. According to Donald Trump, “Jews” are a “nationality”. That’s not the first time a country’s leader has started down that road… Historically, it never ends well for Jews.

I was born in 1959, 14 years after the Nazi concentration camps were liberated.  In my brain, those camps never went away.

I grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s in a Jewish suburb of Baltimore. Pikesville was so predominantly Jewish that “clever people” called it “Kikesville” instead. My public high school was so predominantly Jewish that even the non-Jewish kids took the Jewish holidays off — cos they knew NOTHING was happening in school those days.

You might think growing up in a place so culturally Jewish would shield one from the Holocaust’s awfulness. You might think such an awful memory — so close in our rear view mirror — would have made my community so horrified that they couldn’t bear to discuss it.

We went completely in the other direction. I wouldn’t say we “embraced” the Holocaust so much as we “owned it”. As my community tends to do, we made it a teachable moment. From a young age, I was told about this tragedy and shown images that burned into my mind forever. I don’t regret that for a second. I needed to remember these lessons – forever.

I have always been grateful to Hebrew school for making me the atheist I am today — and for giving me a stone, cold accurate view of the world — and my place in it because of my tribe.

There’s a famous photo of a group of Jews being rounded up in the Warsaw Ghetto by the occupying Nazis –

From the first time I saw the photo, I became that boy in the lower right. I bet a lot of Jews my age did.  We saw and felt that boy’s terror, his helplessness.  His confusion: how can they be doing this to you just because you were born Jewish?  You’ve done nothing wrong to anyone on the planet – yet the planet wants you dead. 

“Never Again” became as integral a part of my “religious education” as chanting the ‘Shema’.  The past hurt.  That was not going to be our future. 

In our guts, my community has always known this was lurking somewhere in the American Character. You can’t cram peoples’ heads with that much bullshit and expect the bullshit not to screw them up. Bullshit always screws people up – cos it’s bullshit. When you cram a nonsense, hateful mythology into peoples’ heads that actually runs counter to your religion’s core message (and its core messenger) — don’t be surprised when the nonsense becomes the message.

It sucks being despised because of a total fiction. It sucks worse being killed over it.

American Christianity Has Turned Itself Into A Death Cult That Would Have Horrified Jesus

Though I am a hard core (I’d even say devout) atheist, I consider myself a “fan of Jesus”. I don’t know for certain if Jesus actually existed (at present, no one can prove that he did, but, I suspect someone vaguely like him did exist — heavy emphasis on the word “vaguely”) but even a humble atheist like me can appreciate and take to heart the simple teaching “Do Unto Others”. It makes so much sense. Want to be treated with respect by others? Do unto them as you would have them do unto you.

Respect them.

The problem with sacred texts in a modern setting is that the modern setting knows way more than the sacred texts do. Lots of “new information” was available to the modern setting that the writers of the sacred texts had no way to access. If the men who wrote what was assembled into the Old Testament had had access to microscopes and telescopes and the internet, would they have written what they wrote the same way? Of course not. They didn’t KNOW that pathogens cause human disease, not magic or Yahweh (the god character’s actual name — “god” is his job description as in “That Yahweh’s a pretty thin-skinned god, don’tcha think?”). Had they seen photos of distant galaxies taken from the Hubble Telescope, do ya think they’d have invented a mythology to explain everything that still put Earth at the center of all creation when all evidence says the opposite?

Jesus did not invent Christianity. He lived his whole life — and died — a Jew. For all we know, he never was called “Jesus” or the “Christ” at any point during his life. Rather, if he existed, he was referred to like every other Jew of his time and place — by his Jewish name (Joshua Ben Joseph for instance). Jesus may have been somewhat radical in his message but it was still a radically JEWISH message that did not stray one iota from Jewish thinking.

Do Unto Others is a deeply Jewish way of thinking. Of course a lifelong Jew like Jesus would have thought that way. The everlasting genius that was Jesus (whoever, however, whatever he was) comes from his ability to articulate that profound message (in English anyway) in three simple words that anyone can understand. And it’s not hard to do. It’s not hard to figure out “how to do”. You just do it.

Jesus also taught you don’t need a temple or a high priest to talk to Yahweh. Go directly to the father was how Jesus put it. Talk to Yahweh yourself.

That puts priests and the church they’re sitting in into a bind. Jesus says his followers don’t need them to follow him. That makes priests and their churches completely redundant. “Useless,” my construction worker friends used to say (I worked construction briefly during the WGA strike of 1988), “As titties on a bull”.

So where the hell did priests and a church come from if it wasn’t part of Jesus’s “plan”? It came from the same place most of the early church’s mythology came from — Paul, The Apostle. It’s a simple fact. Jesus wrote 0% of the New Testament while Paul wrote about 30% of it, give or take. 27 texts make up the NT. 13 to 14 are attributed to Paul, 7 of them with absolute certainty. Even if the rest attributed to Paul weren’t actually written by him, still they speak from Paul’s point of view; they aspire to tell Paul’s version of events.

The bulk of Paul’s contribution are the letters he wrote to the new, burgeoning Christian communities beginning to form around the eastern Roman world. In them, he describes a Jesus he never met as if he knew him intimately. He speaks for Jesus and begins to lay out the ideas that later writers — the early church fathers — would use to craft an entire mythology out of whole cloth — that springboarded from Jewish culture and custom into the fantastical world of the New Testament.

If you brought Jesus back to life today and explained modern Christianity to him, Jesus would have no idea what you were talking about.

If you did the same thing to Paul, you’d get a completely different reaction. Paul would recognize the story. He’d be taken by all the new additions to what he started (though he’d probably find Mormonism — where Jesus visits North America — a continent Jesus never knew even existed — as especially egregious). Paul started as Saul From Tarsus who “converted” on the road to Damascus after experiencing an epiphany. As Paul, he became determined to spread Jesus’s message even if the message Paul was spreading had nothing to do with Jesus or his actual message.

To that end, Paul aligned Jesus with Jewish tradition (which, being Jewish, Paul was knowledgeable about) and the mythology he created (at first), struggled hard to line up Jesus with the attributes and story precedents required to justify Jesus as the “messiah”. If Jesus was indeed the prophesied messiah, he needed to fit into a certain box with certain attributes. He needed to be related to King David… needed to be born in Bethlehem (regardless of where he was actually born)… needed to be born of a virgin (not sure where that came through but the world Jesus and Paul came from believed deeply in magic and magical powers and Paul’s was not the first version of a new god being born of an old god and a human).

Paul’s genius — the thing that gave his creation (Christianity) legs — was how he employed Jesus — as a kind of mascot — for a pretty radical idea (for then just as for now): “Want to beat Death? Believe in Jesus.”

That’s really what Christianity is all about — eternal life. It was never part of Jesus’s message because he never met Paul — and never heard the wacky ideas that Paul had in his head. As the early church fathers — the men who came after Paul and set out to finish the work that Paul started — settled in to their roles, they expanded upon Paul’s mythology.

Christianity as we know it today has almost nothing to do with Jesus. He really is just a Ronald McDonald-like mascot selling “Do Unto Others” burgers to suckers. Church buildings do more to undermine any congregation’s integrity than all the atheists combined. Buildings are expensive to build, expensive to maintain. Every church has to do that math: what does it take to have a church and what does it take to keep that church operational, the doors open & the lights on? The answer? Lots and lots of money.

Jesus, as far as we can tell from the message that filtered down to us, was deeply into the spiritual side of things. He didn’t teach how to manage a church’s finances so as to keep it in the black. Do Unto Others. That’s it.

Now — picture Jesus actually getting to have that second coming Paul and HIS followers imagined for Jesus. Finally, Jesus gets to rise from the dead for all to see and acknowledge. There’ll be no disputing it this time. Jesus comes back and sees for himself what Paul did and what sprang from what Paul did.

Does Jesus ever stop projectile vomiting?

I think not.

I Grew Up In The Shadow Of The Holocaust

It’s National Holocaust Remembrance Day. According to Donald Trump, “Jews” are a “nationality”. That’s not the first time a country’s leader has started down that road… Historically, it never ends well for Jews.

I was born in 1959, 14 years after the Nazi concentration camps were liberated.  In my brain, those camps never went away.

I grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s in a Jewish suburb of Baltimore. Pikesville was so predominantly Jewish that “clever people” called it “Kikesville” instead. My public high school was so predominantly Jewish that even the non-Jewish kids took the Jewish holidays off — cos they knew NOTHING was happening in school those days.

You might think growing up in a place so culturally Jewish would shield one from the Holocaust’s awfulness. You might think such an awful memory — so close in our rear view mirror — would have made my community so horrified that they couldn’t bear to discuss it.

We went completely in the other direction. I wouldn’t say we “embraced” the Holocaust so much as we “owned it”. As my community tends to do, we made it a teachable moment. From a young age, I was told about this tragedy and shown images that burned into my mind forever. I don’t regret that for a second. I needed to remember these lessons – forever.

I have always been grateful to Hebrew school for making me the atheist I am today — and for giving me a stone, cold accurate view of the world — and my place in it because of my tribe.

There’s a famous photo of a group of Jews being rounded up in the Warsaw Ghetto by the occupying Nazis –

From the first time I saw the photo, I became that boy in the lower right. I bet a lot of Jews my age did.  We saw and felt that boy’s terror, his helplessness.  His confusion: how can they be doing this to you just because you were born Jewish?  You’ve done nothing wrong to anyone on the planet – yet the planet wants you dead. 

“Never Again” became as integral a part of my “religious education” as chanting the ‘Shema’.  The past hurt.  That was not going to be our future. 

In our guts, my community has always known this was lurking somewhere in the American Character. You can’t cram peoples’ heads with that much bullshit and expect the bullshit not to screw them up. Bullshit always screws people up – cos it’s bullshit. When you cram a nonsense, hateful mythology into peoples’ heads that actually runs counter to your religion’s core message (and its core messenger) — don’t be surprised when the nonsense becomes the message.

It sucks being despised because of a total fiction. It sucks worse being killed over it.

“Karma’s A Stone Cold Bitch” – MOSCOW MITCH MCCONNELL EDITION

Mitch McC
Mitch is thinking “Please, Karma, don’t hurt me. I know I deserve it but, please — don’t hurt me!”

When we get to the end of this sorry-assed saga, Mitch McConnell will stand as one of American history’s Uber-Villains. If you want to know how severely damaged Moscow Mitch is — he’s a lonely bully having his revenge on the rest of the schoolyard — read Jane Meyer’s excellent piece on Mitch in the New Yorker.

Mitch & Donald Trump go well together because neither has a scruple or guiding principle in his head — beyond greed.

Remember — Mitch went out of his way to keep Russia’s intense partisan involvement in election 2016 a secret from We The People. For that alone, Mitch deserves to rot in hell for all eternity.

Yeah, there’s some pretty awful Karma Mitch has created for himself. When that Karma boomerangs — as Karma always does — it will fly back at Mitch with a vengeance. The question: how exactly will Karma appear to Mitch?

If I were ‘In Control’ of Karma — and I could create a ‘Karma Tree’ that would guide all of Mitch’s future incarnations — based on what he REALLY deserves — Mitch’s Karma would go something like this…

Mitch dies (hold off on breaking out the champagne — for now).  And he comes back as THIS — ‘Mitch McConnell:  Toilet Brush‘ —

A Toilet Brush or Mitch

But here’s the ‘rub’ — ‘MITCH THE TOILET BRUSH‘ lives HERE —

WORST TOILET

Yeah — even worse than ‘The Worst Toilet In Scotland’…

A lot worse, it turns out — because THIS is the REFUGEE CAMP where Mitch’s Toilet lives — and CHOLERA just broke out all across the camp…

Refugee Camp

Yeah — CHOLERA.

And there’s already a LINE to use Mitch’s Toilet (and every last person in line has EXPLOSIVE DIARRHEA) —

line of refugees 1

  And that line goes on…

Line of Refugees 2

And on…

Refugees3

And on…

And STILL, it gets worse for Mitch — Cos THIS is the creature at the very endof that line…

Monster at end of line

And it doesn’t make ‘dainty’ piles like THIS —

pileofcrap

Nope — it produces an endless stream of foul-smelling poison as toxic as Mitch’s ‘soul’.

And just as Mitch sees how massive and unending that STREAM OF LIQUID SHIT IS

He wakes up — and realizes it was all in his head — A DAYDREAM!

And that makes Mitch happy (even happier than Koch Money does when it lines his pockets — and that’s a lot of happy).

Happy Mitch

Everything, Mitch realizes, is back to normal.  And he turns to go about what he was doing (before that awful daydream) and he reaches out TO SHAKE THE HAND of THIS MAN —

THE HANDSHAKE

And the KARMA TREE starts all over again…

Forever and ever and ever…

Hey, Karma — call me — I bet we can work something out to everyone’s mutual satisfaction (and improved Karma)…

Shits N Giggles Karma Bonus Points — Mitch needs to answer why his military records are sealed — and why the word SODOMY makes him uneasy… Hey, Karma: Three, two, one — GO!

Donald Trump Is The Poster Boy For The Banality Of Evil

Aside from all around assholery, Donald Trump is “good at” exactly nothing.

If not for Tony Schwartz’s skill as a writer, we wouldn’t see any art whatsoever in Trump’s dealings. We’d see corruption and criminality. If not for Mark Burnett inventing the character of Trump, Master Deal Maker — I doubt even Russia could have made Trump president.

As has been well-documented, Trump comes from a family of con men and petty criminals, cowards and racists, men and women incapable of forming healthy human bonds with anyone — or anything aside from money. Think Fred Trump respected his son (as Trump insists was the case)? Good luck finding any proof of it.

There’s far more evidence that Fred Trump saw Don-Don as a lost cause. A criminal saw his son as being too inept to be a “good” criminal. The best Donald Trump could ever hope to be — in his father’s eyes — was a mediocre criminal. Even Fred Trump saw how banal Donald Trump was.

The Hitlers of the world don’t arise from hell. They arise from ordinary circumstances. They’re broken, to be sure. But, aside from being broken, they’re not good at anything. They’re not educated in anything. They’re not capable of anything.

Is Trump articulate? Is he clever? Is he observant? Is he deeply knowledgeable — about his own business even? No — he’s not. He’s mediocre at best. Banal.

Trump’s no Bond Villain. Ernst Stavro Blofeld he ain’t. More like Schmoe-feld. He’s the bitch in this equation. Ask Vladimir Putin…

That’s what makes what the Republicans are doing so appalling. It’s not like they’re following a master mind off the cliff.

They’re following Donald J Trump ffs.

If they didn’t deserve it so much, I’d almost feel sorry for the Republicans. I’m quite sure I won’t feel a bit sorry when we get to the punishment phase of the proceedings.

Banality & evil will both come at a price.