Why Do Assholes Think THEIR Freedom Is More Important Than Anyone Else’s Freedom?

Have ya heard the one about the asshole who refused to wear a mask — cos “freedom”? Sure ya have. Maybe the better question is how many times have you heard…?

This happened the past few days — an asshole walks into a Costco in Arvada, Colorado without a mask. The store has clearly posted that its policy — if you want to enter it — is you MUST wear a mask. An employee — acting respectfully at all times — confronted the customer and told him store policy was he needed to wear a mask in order to continue shopping.

The asshole turned on his phone and started recording the confrontation — thinking of course that his argument would crush this young man on social media. Problem was, the asshole was being an asshole on top of which, he was 100% wrong.

The social media threat backfired horribly. Tison, the employee — whether by dint of great training or because he’s just a smart person who understands how to handle a tricky situation calmly and directly. The video encounter can be seen here — at TMZ.

First things first: Tison, whoever you are — you’re a great employee. I’m sure you’d be a great manager or a great whatever you want to do. You know how to deal with people under duress and difficult circumstances. That’s harder than it looks.

The asshole makes a remarkable (though unsurprising) assumption — only his freedom matters. The asshole is right — he IS free to not wear a mask and be as big an asshole as he wants so long as he doesn’t break the law in any way. But his isn’t the only freedom under discussion.

The Costco Company also has freedom here. In fact, their freedom is no less than the asshole’s freedom. Their freedom should be exactly equal — and, so long as they’re not violating any laws or statutes, they are entitled to allow whomever they like into their stores. That’s their right — because they’re free.

Why do the assholes think their freedom is any more important than another person’s freedom? Oh, right — because they’re assholes.

This Atheist Has No Quarrel With Jesus; It’s Christians I Have Issues With…

Growing up Jewish in a mostly Christian world (here in America, back in the 60’s) was like living inside a giant non-sequitur. Growing up in the shadow of the Holocaust (I was born in 1959, 14 years after the camps were liberated) added extra non-sequitur-iness. My tribe was hated to the point of genocide by the German tribe because…

Jews owned all the banks? Jews owned all the newspapers? Jews were destroying German culture? Gosh, if German culture was that easily destroyed, there must not have been much to it. By German culture, the Nazis meant their brand of Christian culture. But all Christian cultures seem to have one thing very much in common — Jew hatred.

Considering who Jesus was — born a Jew, lived a Jew, died a Jew (and died because he WAS a Jew) — the first leap every Jew-hating Christian has to make is that Jesus (somewhow) “wasn’t” actually Jewish. Ah, but that assumes most Christians actually care about Jesus. They do — the way McDonald’s cares about Ronald McDonald.

McDonald’s could cut Ronald free tomorrow. And, while it might cause some consternation among the McDonald’s faithful for a few microseconds, no one goes to McDonald’s because they love the clown. No, they love the food. They love the buttons McDonald’s food pushes inside them. And if McDonald’s shitcanned Ronald, after bitching and moaning for ten minutes, they’d be right back in line with their lunch order.

Back in the 1970’s an actual bible scholar (as opposed to the bible college brand of bible scholars whose scholarship is dubious at best) named Robert Funk formed The Jesus Seminar. Their mission — to coax an historical Jesus from the New Testament texts — to apply modern critical thinking so as to find the actual, flesh-and-blood Jesus in the sometimes conflicting stories the early church fathers painted of Jesus.

What, The Jesus Seminar wanted to know, could we reasonably say that Jesus did in fact say? What was Jesus’s actual message to the world.

The majority of the NT is Paul (mostly) creating the mythos of Jesus. We know Paul existed — he wrote letters to the Corinthians and the Galatians and the Ephesians and the Philippians and the Colossians and the Thessalonians. Paul wrote letters to Timothy and Titus and Philemon and the Hebrews. We have receipts for Paul — in which Paul is literally laying out what this new-fangled church HE invented actually “believes”.

Paul never met Jesus, remember. He met members of Jesus’s family — Jesus’s brother James — who all had profound differences with Paul and what he was doing, using Jesus’s name. They, unlike Paul, had heard Jesus speak and teach. They knew what Jesus said because they’d heard him.

Paul, on the other hand, was trying to make an actual human — who lived a particular life — fit into the story structure required of a prophesied messiah. The messiah prophesied in the Jewish texts “Acts” and “Isiah” has to come from King David’s bloodline and and had to be born in Bethlehem et cetera et cetara. Keep in mind — those prophesies were written by human beings with lots of hope in their hearts but no actual knowledge of events in their heads.

Paul was mythologizing Jesus to make him fit into a pre-existing myth. Read Paul — he’s a genius! He invented a product that we’re still talking about. “Believe in the story I’m telling”, says Paul, “And you can beat Death!” That’s the sales pitch. For real. Eternal Life thru Believing A Story.

And the story has nothing to do with the actual human whose story it supposedly is.

If we could go back in time and look Jesus in the eye — and if we told him what had happened subsequent to his death in his name, he’d be flabbergasted.

That’s because Jesus never, in his wildest imagination, ever set out to invent 1) a religion and 2) a whole church to preach it. Everything about Jesus was Jewish — including the core philosophy the Jesus Seminar concluded was his. Jesus’s ministry can be summed up in three words: “Do Unto Others”.

That’s it. It’s why Jesus’s message has endured despite the myriad ways the church established in Jesus’s name has tried to undermine it. “Do Unto Others” is way bigger than them. Anyone who wants to “do unto others” — an atheist, for instance — doesn’t need a church to help them. They can just “do unto others”.

Cost nothing — feels great!

Jesus recognized this fact about his core philosophy — it started and stopped with each individual person. That’s a very Jewish message by the way. Jews are taught to take responsibility for the world — not to convert it, to look after it. To make it a better place to live in. And because each of us must take responsibility for how we act toward others, we really don’t need a church looking over our shoulder.

In fact, Jesus taught that one doesn’t need churches at all — or the preachers running them. “Speak directly to the father”, Jesus said. Talk directly to God. Well, if the faithful can do that, what do they need a preacher for? Why do they need to pay for that preacher’s church — the physical structure?

What Paul built was genius. Can’t argue. But what Paul built was invented by Paul and the early church fathers who chose to tell one version of events over other versions. I recommend a fantastic book called “The Other Bible” which contains all the texts that didn’t make the cut into either the canonical OT or the canonical NT. Just knowing that there were texts that “didn’t make the cut” raises a shitload of questions about the “veracity” of the NT as a source for “truth”. Not like it should ever have been a question.

Jesus spoke to his followers’ spirituality. The church Paul created aspired to do that — using Jesus as a kind of mascot. To belong to a church, you have to follow its rules & believe what they need you to believe so that the church remains relevant — for instance, that the person your church is built on rose from the dead.

Which is why they keep asking if anyone’s heard the good news?

Trump’s Turned America Into Something Even Worse Than A Dystopia – We’re Now A SCHMUCK-Topia

This would be bad enough — a stolen election, autocratic rule by gutless criminal, a continuing pitch toward permanent minority rule — without a worldwide pandemic piling onto our misery. But, at least, the pandemic revealed that our dire circumstances were even more dire than we knew.

It’s probably too much to hope for that the villains who took down America would be “great” villains — world class villains worthy of our respect. FFS, they will have taken out the greatest experiment in human self government ever. They must be geniuses to have done it!

Um, no actually. Not a one of them even knows a genius. Geniuses wouldn’t get anywhere near these people for fear they’d find some way to leech IQ points. What Rick Wilson said is truer every day: Everything Donald Trump Touches Dies. Trump isn’t good at anything — including how he’s destroying America. He’s not doing this with any expertise or panache — he’s doing it like the rapist he is. Forcing it. Forcing it regardless of what we do or say.

Everyone who comes into contact with Trump walks away not just dead but a schmuck. Everyone knows this is coming. Either you said “Not to me, it won’t” — and you were wrong, SCHMUCK!” — or you willingly crawled into bed with Donald J. Trump and you’re the worst kind of schmuck.

The incompetence on top of the bad faith, bad acting, bad everything — that’s why we all walk around feeling gut-punched. The relentlessness is the point. Schmucks are relentless. They’re gutless and insensitive and over-bearing and conceited. They’re the person who makes you curse yourself because you refuse to get violent cos that asshole needs a good ass-kicking.

You know you’ve just encountered a schmuck because regardless of what you did to get stuck in their shit or free of it, their shit’s now all over you. What a schmuck!

We have schmucks writing laws, schmucks pushing through schmuck judges, schmucks wrecking the environment and violating other peoples’ rights. We have schmucks in the media telling us both sides do it (when they absolutely do not) and schmucks out in the streets — some armed to the teeth cos they want their haircut, damn it, and you can’t stop them.

America now does things for schmuck reasons because schmucks control virtually all levers of power except the House. Scmucks were told a pandemic was coming but did nothing about it because, being schmucks, they planned to profit off the pandemic first and foremost. Those same schmucks, we should point out, had already sold us out to Russia (and Saudi Arabia and Turkey and the UAE and Israel and who knows who else) because — say it together now: they’re schmucks.

We now live in a schmuck-topia run by schmucktocrats. Nothing good ever happens because nothing ever gets done for the right reason. What the schmucks want us to do — what they expect us to do — is give in to them. Do the schmucky thing.

It’s what they’d do.

Why Doesn’t Our Main Stream News Media Ever Ask The Most Important Question Of All: “WHY?”

The difference between good storytellers and bad storytellers is good storytellers know that a satisfying story will always answer the most important question of all about any character: WHY? Why did the character do what they did to propel the story forward?

Important distinction: “Just because” is not an adequate answer.

Funny thing? “Just because” is the answer 90% of our press seems to accept as “why” Donald Trump does what he does. Why does Donald Trump treat Vladimir Putin like a god? “Just because”.

Why do the Republicans let Donald Trump get away with dismantling the Constitution and the Rule Of Law right before our very eyes? “Just because”.

Why did Trump wait almost two months before doing a goddamned thing about the coronavirus pandemic coming at us? Why did he insist on America buying huge quanties of hydroxychloroquine even though we had no hard data that it was efficacious? “Just because”.

Weird, huh, that none of those “just bceauses” feels even remotely satisfying. Or true.

Take it from a professional storyteller — who relies on getting characters right because the instant we get a character wrong, the audience will bail — no one in the whole history of the world has ever done anything “just because”. They may not have been able to articulate what motivated them, but something motivated them. Even existential boredom — as a cause — shouts “motivation!”

There are myriad answers to WHY Donald Trump does what he does. None of it is a mystery. It is ludicrous that even now there are “journalists” who ask themselves, “Hmmm, I wonder why Trump did that?” as if a mountain range of data didn’t answer that question to a very fine point. Trump’s father and grandfather were unsavory men. Everything about Trump’s own personal history is redolent of bullshit and clumsy concoction.

Everyone in Manhattan knows the truth about Donald Trump — what he is (a con man) and what he isn’t (rich). FFS — as Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in August 2017 (when the Republicans in control were doing everything they could to undermine the Steele Dossier) — while doing their due diligence BEFORE BEGINNING their formal oppo research on Donald Trump (as they were hired to do by the Republican Washington Free Beacon), what they found in publicly available material (repeat — IN PUBLICLY AVAILABLE MATERIAL — accessible by anyone in the public and everyone in the news media) convinced them that Donald Trump had been laundering Russian mob money through his Atlantic City casinos.

Was anyone who watched Trump’s casinos GO bankrupt at the time thinking anything else? Of course not! We should ask (another time) — WHY did/does our main stream news media LET Donald Trump get away with so much obvious criminality over the course of his lifetime? What’s up with THAT? As I said — another time.

The answer to WHY? where Trump is concerned has always been there. It’s not hard. All one has to do is accept it (hell, Trump’s been confessing it all along!) Donald Trump is corrupt. Always has been. We don’t have to keep proving it. It’s as much a stone cold fact as “we are carbon-based life form”. Yes, we are. That is 100% correct.

Also 100% correct and 100% verifiable — Donald Trump has a long-standing relationship with Russia, Russian mobsters, Russian intelligence and Russian corruption. If we took what we have — in public — and took it to a civil trial (where all we need is the preponderance of the evidence — 51%), we’d win hands down. If we took it to a criminal trial — where we have to be dead certain?

Same result. We’ve got receipts. In our hands. We simply refuse to acknowledge that fact.

WHY, I wonder.

There’s not much the average citizen can do — even if they shout their heads off on Twitter to lots likes. We don’t have the kind of megaphone that MSNBC or CNN has. We don’t, most of us, have the followers that your average mediocre reporter does. Our voices simply don’t “broadcast” as wide as a working journalist’s does.

But, those journalists should know that We The People have deep concerns about how the Fourth Estate is failing to live up to its Constitutionally mandated obligation to be the final check on power and its abuse. Whether it’s lack of imagination, incompetence, lack of talent or curiosity, or just plain cowardice and corruption — they are failing us. And the tell is that strange refusal to ever ask “WHY?”

Why does Trump do what he does? Why did Mitch McConnell violate every “norm” imaginable to hijack the judiciary (oops — just answered my own question — silly me — Mitch did what he did TO HIJACK THE JUDICARY – for the very purpose he’s using it now!)

Why did Lindsey Graham do the strange back flips he did about Trump? Why does Devin Nunes behave the way he does? Why does Bill Barr regularly violate the spirit of the law like Brett Kavanaugh pumped up on beer at a frat party? Why did the Senate refuse to meet its obligation to America and convict Donald Trump of corruption?

“Just because”?

C’mon now. We all know the answers to these questions — even our main stream news media. When we turn off the cameras and get as up close and personal as social distancing allows — I betcha the overwhelming majority of them WILL say out loud what the rest of America has been screaming for years now: Donald Trump is a fully owned asset of Vladimir Putin & Russia.

And Saudi Arabia. And China. And the UAE. And Turkey. And Israel. And who knows who else.

We would have gotten to the end of this awful story we’re all living inside of eons ago if our news media had just asked “Why” and stuck to their guns about getting an answer before moving on to anything else. “WHY are Mexicans rapists?” “Why do you grab pussies?”

Hey, even ask WHY “but her emails” — especially now, in hindsight — with every member of the Trump family using private email servers just like they accused HRC of doing. Yes, please — ask “WHY?”

I’ll answer my own question — WHY does our main stream news media persist in doing this? Because “both sides do it” has distorted everything. If both sides do it, they both do it for the same reason: “politics”. See? Easy? No more worrying about the truth — the real WHY people do what they do.

“How It Feels To Be Part Of MSNBC’s Audience: A Playlet”

As the lights come up, a member of MSNBC’s audience sits down to watch some news. Almost immediately, the audience member is incensed. And… fade in —

MSNBC: Donald Trump said ‘this’ today.

Audience: But ‘this’ is a lie and you know it is. Nicolle Wallace spent a whole half hour reporting on it extensively.

MSNBC: But, what if what Trump said is true?

Audience: How can it be true? Rachel Maddow presented hard evidence on your air that it can’t possibly be true. Doesn’t anyone at your news network ever watch Rachel?

MSNBC: Republicans are treating the coronavirus pandemic politically – but so are Democrats!

Audience: What are you talking about? Democrats aren’t withholding aid from blue states because the governors refuse to lick Trump’s nutsack. Democrats aren’t refusing to stay at home, socially distance or even wear masks.

MSNBC: Both sides do it.

Audience: Do WHAT? Consort with hostile foreign powers to win elections? Do both sides do that? Do both sides actively work to suppress the other sides voters? Do both sides gerrymander states so perversely (in Wisconsin, for instance), that though Democrats won 53 percent of the vote, they got only 36 percent of the seats?

MSNBC: You’re just being political!

Audience: No, no, I’m not.  I’m simply reporting facts – like you’re supposed to do! When Republicans violate the Constitution or the Rule Of Law, they’re doing it for political reasons, right?

MSNBC: Ummmmmm… yeah…

Audience: But, when Democrats respond to what Republicans are doing, that’s them reacting to violations of law – they’re pointing out a fact: Republicans are actively violating the law. They should do that regardless of political party. You understand, right – when Democrats do that—

MSNBC: They’re playing politics.

Audience: But- didn’t we just- does anyone at your network ever watch Rachel Maddow or Nicolle Wallace.  Ali Velshi even – he’s good!  And Lawrence!  Chris Hayes used to be good – but he sucked down the Tara Reade koolaid like a champ.  And don’t get us started on Chuck Todd!

MSNBC: Chuck is a respected—

Audience: Oh shut up. Every time Chuck opens MTP, Tim Russert begins spinning so fast in his grave that if they hooked him to the power grid, he could supply a small city with electricity.  

MSNBC: It’s not up to us to voice our opinions. We just report facts.

Audience: Do you report all the facts?

MSNBC: All of them? Well– we try–

Audience: Does, say, Kris Jenner report everything learned during Joy Reid’s show? We’ve heard interviews Kris has done — immediately following Joy’s show — where Kris acts as if everything learned during Joy’s show never existed. That’s a neat trick. Wouldn’t it make more sense if the network kept track of the story it’s telling — and the characters — and how they evolve every day — and, you know, the way stories are supposed to work — the storyteller keeps updating the story with new information. That way, all your lesser on-air talent could benefit from (and tell the same story as) your topline talent. Imagine that — consistency!

MSNBC: If you hate us so much, go watch CNN.

Audience: We do when necessary. They’re no better. But we hold out hope for you. We see great hires like Nicolle and Joy and Rachel and Lawrence and we get hopeful. You have it in you to deliver great TV journalism. You do it almost every day already — we just want you to do it more. Look — why give credence to people whose announced intent is to dismantle everything? Who call YOU “fake news”?  Are you “fake news”?

MSNBC: No – of course not—

Audience: Are you the “enemy of the people”?

MSNBC: Actually, we are “the people”. That’s all we are – people trying to do our jobs and get the truth out.  But it’s hard because—

Audience: We know.  We get it.  Never mind the coronavirus pandemic – the Trump-Russia story is massively huge and virtually impossible for anyone to fully grasp because there are so many moving parts.  It takes a team to connect all the dots.  But, it’s incumbent on you to do the connecting.

MSNBC: We’re trying—

Audience: Try harder.  Better yet – sit down and watch Nicolle Wallace. Watch Rachel Maddow. Watch Ali Velshi. If they can do it, so can everyone else on your air.

MSNBC: Hmmmmmm, ya suppose?

Audience: Well, not everyone, of course—

MSNBC: Chuck’s a non-starter—

Audience: Careful – did you not realize your mic was still on?

MSNBC: We hate when that happens.

Audience: Welcome to our Brave New World.

And… SCENE!

The Cruel, Cruel Truth About Conservatives: They’re All CRUEL

The faces of conservatism. What, do ya suppose, these young monsters want to “conserve”?

What’s in a name? Everything. Want to know what conservatives really, really want? It’s right there in their names: conservatives want to CONSERVE.

Now ask “what?”. WHAT do conservatives want to conserve?

You can’t conserve the future — it doesn’t exist.

But, you can control the present, in a sense. You can do things to keep present circumstances from changing. Well, you can do things to keep what humans do from changing. As we all know, we can’t really do much to keep our environment from changing. Not now, anyway, we’ve already set the worst in motion. Conservatives don’t give a flying fig about that. That’s the future — and they intend for the future to be exactly like the past.

Conservatives are always trying to jam square pegs through round holes. They aren’t the actual square pegs or the round holes — they’re just the ones trying to make them all fit together regardless of how much they don’t fit, never have and never will. That’s the basic operating principle of conservatism — you ignore the situation on the ground in favor of the one in your head. Your goal — make the one on the ground match the one in your head.

Funny thing? It never does. Conservatives never achieve their goal — of turning back the clock. Consequently, fewer and fewer people want to do what conservatives want (thus white America’s conundrum).

Conservatives want other people to behave themselves even as they don’t. They want other people to follow the law — even as they break it. They want other people to do what they say — just because they say.

Conservatives are almost always “religious” — in the sense that they say they believe in “God”. And they do. They believe THEY are “God” — and, as with the imaginary “God” of the Abrahamic texts, conservatives who believe they are God also believe that God-like Magic flows from them: what they say goes! Cos “God” said it.

And who is going to say no to “God”?

Down deep, conservatism demands bullying to have its way. How can it not? It keeps telling people what it wants them to do — but they say “no, thanks — we’d rather do it differently”. Conservatives should have taken their ball and gone home.

They didn’t.

Instead, they decided to change the rules of the game without telling anybody. In fact, they stopped playing the game entirely. They plotted with another neighborhood bully — guy named Vladimir — to start a whole new game — their game. How were they going to get us to quit our game and play theirs? Well, it wasn’t going to be by calmly explaining the rules to us — and selling us legitimately on why their game was better than our game.

Because their game sucks unless you’re them. We were never going to want to play their game.

Which meant bullying us instead. Cheating any way they could — like bullies.

There’s not a single thing Republicans have done since Donald Trump became president that doesn’t reek of cruelty. Hell — there’s not a single thing Republicans have done since… Lincoln? — that didn’t reek of cruelty. But, let’s remind ourselves: Lincoln’s Republican Party is not the contemporary Republican Party. As Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party points out, in virtually every way, the modern Republican and Democratic parties have switched names with the Republican and Democratic parties of Lincoln’s time.

Republicans have always treasured treasure over human life. It’s just a stone cold fact — if money is your “god”, then greed is your mantra and cruelty is the nature of your faith.

In Order For Us To Get That Cheap Pair Of Gym Socks, Some Other Human Has To Suffer

Our market-driven economy has taught us all to continue searching out the things we want for the cheapest possible price. Why not get the thing you want while keeping a few more kopeks in your pocket? Seems totally reasonable.

But, that assumes that the things we want — a good pair of white gym socks, say (currently available from Walmart at $6.99 for a package of 6) — can actually be created from start to finish and delivered to us for the price we’re paying. Obviously it can — we’re holding the package of gym socks in our hands. But what did those socks really cost — not just us — but the people who made them? What did growing, manufacturing and shipping those socks to us do to the planet? What did our cheap package of gym socks cost everyone else?

Organic, non-destructive farming methods are more expensive than normal factory farming methods. Our cheap pair of gym socks weren’t grown organically — count on it. The cotton in them was farmed elsewhere under environmental laws more lax than ours. We don’t know (as we pay for our socks) what sorts of pesticides were used. We don’t know how responsibly (or, more likely, irresponsibly) those pesticides were used. We don’t know if they ended up in a stream or a river — or someone’s drinking water.

Farmers and business people doing things for cheap tend to cut corners — like worrying about other peoples’ drinking water. That’s just experience and history talking.

Likewise, we don’t know what, if any, air pollution regs the factory that made our socks followed. It is entirely possible that making our socks contributed (in some small way) to global warming. Bravo, us.

The biggest cost in making our socks is the labor. Or should be. It isn’t. That’s the real problem. For us to get that cheap pair of gym socks, it’s simply a fact that the human beings who actually make them will have to get paid next to nothing. If they can be slave labor — that’s even better.

Cheap, cheaper, cheapest comes at a considerable cost.

As we all stumble forward now into our coronavirus-flavored Brave New World, we’ll have the chance to re-imagine a lot of how we did things. More people working from home all around the world will have a direct economic impact on lots of other businesses. Fewer people will now travel for business. That will mean fewer flights — that are more full (as full as social distancing will allow) — and cost more. The airlines won’t have a choice if they want to remain in business.

Fewer people commuting will mean fewer people need to buy cars. That’s fewer cars bought, financed and serviced. That will mean fewer cars made — not that people will be making them anyway.

Think about your job and what you get paid for it. None of us wants to be told that our labor isn’t worth much — that we’re lucky to have a job so shut up and do it. That’s what we’re telling every laborer who has anything to do with our cheap pair of socks.

Make my socks, bitch. Then die.

We’re going to need to readjust our thinking. Things will cost more than they do because, well, they cost more. We’re going to need to see the deep, profound connections between our economic circumstances and everyone else’s.

Greed never makes anyone smarter.