The Most Frustrating Thing About Anti-Semitism Is What It's Based On: NOTHING

I’ve said here before that I grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust — in a Jewish suburb of Baltimore just 20 years after the camps were liberated. Many survivors lived in my community. I can tell you from experience — it’s damned hard for a little kid to wrap his young mind around that much hatred for who he is when, as far as he knows — he’s done nothing to deserve it.

The Nazis didn’t invent anti-Semitism, of course, they merely industrialized it — finding ways to make money off the hatred via forced labor and even body parts. If Spain had had similar technology at its disposal, I’m sure the Spanish Inquisition would have been even ghastlier and more gruesome & cruel than it was.

In between the Spanish Inquisition (well before it too) all the way up to the Holocaust, anti-Semitism saw plenty of other outlets — pogroms and other mass murders of Jews often when the Christians decided they didn’t want to pay back the money the Jews had loaned them. The church made it hard for anyone other than Jews to lend money. Follow that? The Church made it illegal for anyone except Jews to lend money — though the Church also understood that the lending & borrowing of money was essential to the Church’s economic survival. Massive churches don’t pay for themselves to be built — or kept up.

The Church made anti-Semitism part of its economic strategy. In a perverse way, it was genius.

But where did the Church’s Jew-hatred start?

Jesus — if he existed in any way as the person we think he was — did not invent Christianity. He was born, lived and died a Jew. Back in the 1970’s, Bible scholar Robert Funk put together The Jesus Seminar — a group of about 50 critical biblical scholars and 100 laymen who wanted to tease out a historical Jesus from the Gospels. That Jesus taught a very simple message: Do Unto Others.

He also taught that one did not need a temple or its high priests to speak to Yahweh (the God character’s actual name). One could go to “the father” directly.

So where did a “church” come from? Where did Christianity come from? That’d be Paul — the former Saul of Tarses. If Saul never has his moment on the road too Damascus, Christianity never gets invented — because Paul’s the guy who invented Christianity.

The bulk of the NT is Paul’s work — his epistles to the far flung churches HE was nurturing and encouraging. But encouraging to do & believe what? What was Paul selling? Paul tried hard to sell his version of Jesus to the Jewish community except they weren’t interested. Paul never met Jesus. Never heard his voice or heard his teachings directly. But Paul did have an agenda — and after the Jewish community rejected him (and what he was selling), he turned his attention to the Helenized-Roman Gentile world.

Paul needed to sell Jesus as The Messiah. And Paul’s Messiah (here’s Paul’s genius) was the answer to “But what do we do about death?” Paul promised that belief in Jesus would allow the believer to live forever. This was all based on a strange re-imagining of strange Jewish mythology. To justify Jesus being the Messiah, Paul and the early Church fathers (picking up the myth-making where Paul left off) created a hodgepodge of texts and documents that told a muddled, confused story.

It wasn’t until the First Council of Nicaea (325 AD) that the church itself tried to make sense of its own confounding, contradictory story. That’s the problem: IT WAS ALWAYS A STORY.

It’s a little like having your tribe be hated because of something Ron Weasley said in the Harry Potter books.

Jews have had the damnedest time defending themselves against anti-Semitism because it’s impossible to argue against bullshit. Bullshit always have the luxury of being bullshit. It never has to worry about being true or real. It never has to justify itself. It never even has to defend itself. It just falls apart and blows away.

It’s a strange experience to have another person look you in the eye and insist that you and your tribe are evil and deserve to be hated, tortured, killed and reviled because of a story. Even stranger? Knowing the person looking at you with all that hate knows less about their own religion than you do.

99% of Christian churches only ever treat Jesus as a mascot anyway. He’s Ronald McDonald selling forgiveness for your sins instead of Big Macs. Jesus — if he could rise from the dead — would never stop being disgusted by what Paul did in Jesus’ name to Jesus’ own tribe.

It Really Is This Simple: By LAW, You Cannot CHEAT To Become POTUS; Therefore Donald Trump Has NEVER Been POTUS

Now, that’s just The Rule Of Law talking and what does The Rule Of Law know? That’s how Republicans think these days apparently.

To be absolutely fair about it, they’re right. The Rule Of Law is a fiction that we invented for our mutual benefit. There are lots of places on Earth where the people don’t live by The Rule Of Law — so, The Rule Of Law is not some absolute, inviolable Law Of The Cosmos. The only thing actually keeping The Rule Of Law in place as our guiding principle as our faithfulness in maintaining it.

It’s like stamina, if you think about it. You can build your stamina. You can maintain it. But stop working on it and it goes away just like that. You can’t store it. Can’t bank it.

Part of our problem — here in America: we’ve taken The Rule Of Law for granted. Those following it always assumed that everyone was following it. Sure, sure — there are criminals outside The Rule Of Law but that’s why we HAVE a Rule Of Law — to isolate those people and handle them fairly but judiciously. We never imagined, We The People, that so many of those who swore an oath to defend The Rule Of Law (that’s what our Constitution is) were committed to overthrowing The Rule Of Law in a kind of soft white Christian male coup d’etat.

The Rule Of Law says foreign interests can have no say in American elections. The Republican Party violated the hell out of that throughout election 2016. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy FAMOUSLY said to a roomful of Republican muckety-mucks “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Pays for what, someone in the room should have asked. “Pays for what purpose?” even. Instead, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan (per the Washington Post) “…instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

According to The Rule Of Law, Speaker Ryan’s response should have been more along the lines of “Holy shit! Guys — get the FBI on the phone pronto! We’ve got a huge PROBLEM on our hands!” But Speaker Ryan didn’t say that. No one in the room even thought anything like it. Hmmmmmmm…

The literal instant we stop following The Rule Of Law to the letter, we compromise it. When we follow it for some people but not so much for other people — that violates The Rule Of Law’s core principle. Speaker Ryan knew he was violating The Rule Of Law — that’s why they all had to agree to “keep it in the family”. Another group of criminals would call that agreement an OMERTA.

It’s the kind of agreement people do when they’ve abandoned The Rule Of Law for their own set of laws. They just haven’t had the decency to tell the rest of us. You know — THE MAJORITY.

We don’t know yet the full extent to which the entire Republican Party was compromised by Russia (and, perhaps, other countries or bad actors). We can only imagine the kompromat Russia is dangling over Lindsey Graham’s pervy head. Even before this though, the Republican Party displayed a disdainful cynicism toward The Rule Of Law. They applied its full pressure whenever they could — while ignoring all the ways they were violating the hell out of it at the very same time.

We know that the Republican Money Machine turned its back on The Rule Of Law a generation ago when it saw the demographic writing on the wall: America was not going to be a predominantly white country for much longer. By 2050, it’s estimated, white people will cease being the majority of the population. Think that doesn’t scare the snot out of conservative white people?

The hard right in this country turned its back on The Rule Of Law the instant they saw it was going to STOP being their instrument of destruction. I don’t know if they feared retribution, but they certainly feared losing absolute power (and the money that goes with it). The Republican Party morphed into The Trump Party — and The Trump Party works for Russia. Russia made Trump POTUS (he did NOT win Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or Michigan legitimately — he couldn’t have after Paul Manafort gave Oleg Deripaska proprietary polling data on those three states). Even Trump’s reported behavior on election night speaks to a kind of guilty behavior. Ever since, no one has obsessed more than Trump has on his presidency’s legitimacy. Why’s that?

IF we really do believe in The Rule Of Law then Donald Trump’s presidency violates it. The fact of his presidency violates it and stands OUTSIDE The Rule Of Law. Trump’s presidency and The Rule Of Law cannot exist at the same time and in the same place.

There is no precedent for what’s happening to us. We have to stop looking to the past for guidance. If Trump violated The Rule Of Law in order to BECOME president of the United States then, by law, he never was president. Not being president, he never had the authority to do anything he did. He never had the authority to negotiate on our behalf or nominate judges.

Let’s use a metaphor that even Donald Trump would understand: A Beauty Pageant. An American presidential election is a lot like a beauty pageant. If, it’s learned after a winner is announced, that the winner wasn’t honest with the judges (as, say, Vanessa Williams was about some mildly erotic photos she’d been part of), the judges can take away the winner’s crown and give it to someone MORE deserving. Someone, say, who followed the pageant’s rules about not doing things that might undermine the pageant’s “brand”.

Vanessa Williams lost her crown — and everything that went with it. If the judges had known before GIVING her the crown, they would never have crowned her, right? They would never have given her the rights & privileges that went with it. In their minds, they were lied to. Vanessa Williams mis-represented herself.

If part of Vanessa Williams’ rights had been to negotiate branding deals on behalf of Miss America, the judges — the whole Miss America organization — would have voided every single one of them for the same reasons.

I know what I’m saying seems impossible to pull off. HOW would we undo the results of an American election? Well, as one of the wronged in this equation — as one of the MAJORITY whose rights are being threatened by a willful right wing minority — HOW CAN WE NOT? Why, I’d like to know, are we always fair beyond fair to conservatives while demanding Progressives explain themselves relentlessly. When did the press lose its mind demanding from conservatives how they were going to pay for Trump’s tax breaks for the rich?

There’s a stone cold reality staring us in the face: Donald Trump was never the legitimate president of the United States.

That fact ripples a thousand ways in a million different directions. We cannot simply ignore it. We can’t “agree to agree” to get past it. We won’t. It’s exactly like slavery — a gross insult to The Rule Of Law.

But then… The Rule Of Law is only what we say it is.

Ball’s in our court.

Dear Republicans: Once Destroyed, Integrity Cannot Grow Back; Your Integrity Is History

Ever meet anyone with 99% of their integrity intact? You can pretty much trust them — but not quite… there’s a point beyond which you know you can’t trust them — usually when things get serious and being able to trust someone is imperative.

That’s the Republican Party. Except they have way, way less than 99% of their integrity. What’s the actual percentage they still have? Does it matter? Integrity’s like a soap bubble. It is or it isn’t. Having 99% of your integrity is no better than having zero.

The Rule Of Law works the same way, too — as we’re learning the hard way. We rely on the Rule Of Law’s integrity in order for it to work. Either we prosecute everyone the same when they break the same laws or we prosecute no one and agree the Rule of Law is dead, long live chaos. Having two sets of laws — as we do in America — violates the integrity of The Rule Of Law.

When a sitting POTUS can get away with actual law-breaking — when he “gets to be” POTUS by breaking the law — we’ve gone to a place where The Rule Of Law no longer works. If we want to rectify that, we have to understand going in — just like with integrity, following The Rule Of Law means committing to it 100%. If we CAN get it back up onto its feet — and if we CAN get IT to be the “rule of the land” again, we need to make damned sure we protect it better.

Let’s start by taking the job of enforcing it out of the hands of White Christian Men.

Of all groups in this country, White Christian Men have done more to destroy their own integrity than anyone or anything else. Oh, the irony. If those men were all followers of Jesus (happily doing unto others) instead of church-goers (needing to raise money to keep their church afloat), they’d still have their integrity.

But then they wouldn’t be Republicans anymore, would they?

Republicans Defend Themselves The Way Bullies Do; It's Not A Coincidence

Listening to Trump or Moscow Mitch McConnell bray about how Democrats should have talked to their witnesses first before even thinking of sending Articles of Impeachment to the Senate for prosecution — tripe repeated via tweet by Donald Trump — one has to remember: the whole reason Democrats HAVEN’T talked to all those witnesses is because Trump & the Trump White House have refused to allow anyone to testify.

See how that works? The Republicans complain bitterly about the Democrats not “presenting” the very witnesses the Republicans are using to obstruct justice with. How can they be guilty, Republicans ask, if the witnesses who’d verify their guilt won’t testify (because the Republicans won’t let them)?

Republicans — criminals by nature — want to blame the victims of their criminality for… being their victims? I keep trying to describe this feeling — of being victimized by Republican behavior while they act as if THEY somehow are the victims. They’re kind of like a bully holding someone’s head under water — then taunting them by saying “Hey, if you want air, just say so and I’ll let you breathe.”

But, of course, the victim CAN’T say so because their head’s under water; they can’t breathe, can’t talk, can’t even resist really.

“I said,” the Bully repeats smugly, “If you want air — just tell me!”

The victim waves their hands frantically.

“I don’t know what that means,” says the Bully with a cruel chuckle, “Use your words.”

But of course the victim can’t — that’s the point of the cruelty. It’s rape behavior’s evil twin. The rape victim either wanted it or deserved it or had it coming.

Mick Mulvaney spoke Republican philosophy with bracing honesty. Don’t like the Trump White House (and the Republican party) forcing their way on The Rule Of Law, the Constitution and The American People? “Get over it”.

How rapey of him. How bully-ish. How completely and utterly Republican.

Abuse Of Power Is The Republican Brand & The Republican Brand Is Abuse Of Power

There’s no similar string of corruption on the Democratic Party’s side: Watergate… Iran-Contra… The Iraq War… Trump-Russia-Trump-Ukraine (it’s the same thing). It’s not because the Democrats aren’t “creative” enough. They’re plenty creative. They just spend most of THEIR creativity on improving the Commonweal, not raping & pilaging it like pirates at a free-for-all.

Both sides do not abuse power the way Republicans do. In fact, both sides do not abuse power. The reason Republicans impeached Bill Clinton wasn’t because he was abusing power. Ironically, that’s what the Republicans were doing — going after Clinton because of a blow job. The American People got it then just like we’re getting it now.

Republicans must abuse power in order to keep power. They’d try to hold onto power using the value of their ideas but — even they know that’s a non-starter. Gerrymandering is an abuse of power. It’s the minority abusing power to disempower the majority so that the majority can’t express its voice. Voter suppression is even more flagrant abuse of power. It only works for the powerful, ya see? It’s impossible for the powerless to do the same thing to the powerful.

Republicans are keenly aware of the demographic handwriting on the wall. By 2050, estimates say, white people will officially be a minority in America. White people (the conservative Christian ones) have decided they won’t go quietly into minority-hood. They declared culture war on the rest of us — and deliberately set out to hijack our Democratic Republic first by capturing the judiciary. You can see Moscow Mitch McConnell hard at work cramming unqualified but ideologically compliant baby conservatives info lifetime appointments Mitch flat out denied President Obama.

Apparently in an election year, it’s up to We The People to, um, decide who we want as SCOTUS judges (nevermind that we already ELECTED a POTUS to do that very thing). I bet Mitch feels the exact opposite if another opening suddenly appears in 2020.

Republicans abuse power like the rest of us breathe.

We all know what Trump and the Republicans are up to — the ultimate abuse of power — permanent one-party (the minority party) rule.

It’s Christmas and Republicans hope like hell that that’s what they find under the tree. It’s incumbent on We The People to make sure Mitch and his fellow travelers find only coal in their stockings.

The Reason "Both Sides Don't Do It" Is Because Both Sides Are NOT The Same

The core conceit at play when a “journalist” like Chuck Todd (which means we’re using the term “journalist” as loosely as we can) insists that “both sides do it” is that both sides do what they do for entirely political reasons. That is empirically untrue.

To act politically is to attempt change. If you are acting politically, you are trying to change the current situation. You’re trying to motivate people to alter what’s happening now — how they’re doing what they’re doing — so that they’ll do what you want them to do in the way you want. You want them to vote against all forms of gun control, for instance. Because you’re desperately afraid that gun control nuts will literally take your weapons away, you resort to all sorts of “persuasion” to stop that from happening. All those acts of persuasion — that’s you being political.

By contrast, when parents mourn their dead children — shot to death in their school — they’re NOT acting politically. When they turn to their political leaders and say “This must stop” — that also is NOT a political act. To see their desires realized out in reality, that WILL demand political action (they’ll have to affect change. But the thing they want to see happen — their children returning from school at the end of the day, not bullet-riddled — that’s NOT political.

It takes politics to negotiate the varying and conflicting needs of different people. But, the common good — the goal everyone’s after — that’s NOT political. It has to be reached via political means. And that, right there, is the source of the confusion.

The dimwits like Chuck Todd see people reacting to politics impacting their lives and call those reactions political.

The Republicans have gerrymandered everywhere they could (as Democrats have also done) for entirely political reasons. When Democratic voters get deliberately under-served as a result, their anger at what’s been done to them isn’t a political reaction, it’s a reaction to dishonesty, corruption and possibly even a crime being perpetrated on them. An African American voter being denied their right to vote is being denied for a political reason — but their anger, resentment and insistence that justice be served — that’s NOT political.

What the Republican Party & Donald Trump are doing to America — dragging it backward in time to the 1850’s — is entirely political. It’s a power grab.

That’s the thing our Main Stream News Media cannot get through its thick head. The reason someone becomes a Democrat is very different from the reason someone becomes a Republican. The reason one goes to a Trump rally is very different from the reason one watches bits and pieces of it on TV instead — with bile and disgust rising in one’s throat. The bile isn’t political. Neither is the disgust.

The Democrats reacting to stolen elections (via voter suppression and Russian involvement) aren’t being “political”, they’re being CRIME VICTIMS. The Rule Of Law could feel equally aggrieved. Ditto the Constitution. They’re both crime victims — and any Democrat rushing to their aid -isn’t doing it for political reasons.

They’re doing it because they’re patriots.