“Can’t Pass the Postal Exam”

In 2018 I found myself spending a lot of time in the Rochester Mayo Clinic’s Neurology Department. Eventually, I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, but back then I was still in the early stages of discovering what was causing my face “to melt” (as Ms. Day described my most visible symptom), in the meantime I was often entertained by conversations in the waiting area. People with neurological disorders seem to be a specially wide spectrum of personalities.

The day I am writing about a pair of Trumpers (old white men) were going on about “all of Trump’s accomplishments” at the borders. A friend of theirs was a Border Patrol agent somewhere at the Canadian border and, supposedly, he had stories of those “terrible people” trying to cross into the US from Canada. While these two nitwits reveled in their friend’s supposed “adventures,” loudly and arrogantly, I remembered a comment someone had made at a campground in Maine when I was coming back from a 2008 motorcycle trip to Nova Scotia, “The Border Patrol cops are just people who failed the Postal Exam.”

I’ve written quite a bit about that long ride on my Geezer blog, but this episode stuck so firmly in my mind that I have sometimes wondered if it were real. At about the 5,000 mile point in this long ride I decided to be lazy and take the CAT High-Speed Car Ferry from Nova Scotia to Maine. The upside to the ferry was that I’d get a 5 hour rest stop instead of a seven hour, 450 miles ride from Nova Scotia to the Maine US border. The downside was that that I’d be going almost straight from the ferry to a US border crossing in Bar Harbor, Maine.

It was a hot August day when Ii arrived in Maine at the hottest time of the day. I was solidly geared up in my ‘Stich Darien suit, road boots, and the usual helmet-gloves-etc setup I always wear on a bike trip. By then, I’d been on the road, “wearing what I’d brung” in my saddlebags, for about two weeks. Some of my clothing was pretty . . . raw, after shower-laundry and multiple reuses. The weather had turned out to be quite a bit warmer than I’d anticipated, too, and I hadn’t brought many lightweight bits of clothing. As she was packing up for her flight back home from Nova Scotia to Minnesota, Ms. Day loaned me one of her clean teeshirts and I was wearing it as I crossed into good ‘ole USA.  If you know me, you’ll likely know that I don’t pay much attention to what I’m wearing. And this is where you might decided that my “situational awareness” needs some work. The shirt was a silkscreen of Ms. Day’s take on a fairly famous pagan character called “The Green Man.” I was pushing my bike along the slow moving trail from the ferry to the US Customs office, since it was hot and we were moving at about 0.1mph, I’d tossed my jacket on to the bike along with my helmet, gloves, and anything I could dump to stay cool.The guy at the border gate took one look at me and sent me into the “security office” to be thoroughly “examined” for contraband because I was so clearly a clear-and-present-hazard to the security of the United States. Remember, this is the stock market, real estate crashing United States of George Bush II’s whackjob 2008. (Almost as bad as the idiocy we have been experiencing since 2017.)

Bar Harbor Port Security BuildingOnce inside the security office, which isn’t much more than an overpriced trailer with extra windows, I had to strip down to my teeshirt, Aerostich riding shorts, and socks while the border cops meandered about doing their low-tech job of determining what kind of contraband I was bringing into the country. I must have been quite a sight to the people who came into the office for other business.

To try and expedite the inspection, I offered to help the officers go through my bike storage, but they insisted that i keep my 60-year-old, undressed, dangerous self where they could see me. They didn’t even trust me to open the cases, pop the seat, or even point out where my storage was. I am not, as I have said before, a camera guy and this was one of many times that I wish that wasn’t true. For almost an hour, three to five of the Customs Department’s “finest” wandered around my motorcycle, fumbling with the keys to the cases, and looking like a troupe of monkeys trying to figure out a typewriter and with exactly as much hope of ever writing “Macbeth” on the damn thing. They, finally, managed to get the two large GIVI side-cases open and spread my clothing all over the parking space in the process. The top case totally foiled them as did the tube tool box under the left side-case and the under-seat storage wasn’t even a consideration. One of the Customs goobers managed to unlock the tank and get a good sniff of Canada’s 90 octane mid-grade gas.

After an hour of entertainment, they gave up and booted me out of the containment area. By then, it was late enough that I started looking for a campsite for the evening. Just out of Lubec, Maine I found a terrific privately-owned campground where I rented a super-cool cabin for less money than I’d been spending for a tent-site at most of the campgrounds on the trip. About an hour after I’d unpacked, the young woman who’d checked me into the campground brought a big tray of fried goodies that hadn’t been sold that evening and that solved me dinner problem. While I ate, we talked about where I’d been, what I’d seen, and I mentioned my Border Patrol episode of the day. And that is where I heard, “They’re just a bunch of losers who couldn’t pass the postal exam” explanation for the fools who freaked out by my wife’s artwork.


The Living “Lost Cause”

I just finished reading Michael Harriot’s generally painful, but brutally honest, Black AF History · The Un-Whitewashed Story of America and I’ve been struggling my way through Myth America: Historians Take On the Biggest Legends and Lies About Our Past for the past several weeks. Princeton’s History Department website summarizes Myth America with “Replacing myths with research and reality, Myth America is essential reading amid today's heated debates about our nation's past.” There weren’t a lot of surprises in Myth America, at least for me, but there were 20 chapters of constant disappointment. Black AF History was a different collection of stories, filled with many names and incidents that had not been part of my history education. Harriot is as tough on white people as white people have been on people of color and that is a tough pill to take, as a white person. The chapter I am currently wading through in Myth America is “Confederate Monuments” by Karen Cox. And my point in this essay/rant came from that chapter, plus the combined background from Black AF History.

The fascination and perverse pleasure some Americans get from Israel’s racism and apartheid and, not many years earlier, South Africa’s similar internal terrorism is almost identical to the things white southerners were saying to themselves after the brief period of Reconstruction. For example, at the unveiling of an Augusta Confederate monument in 1878, Charles Colcock Jones Jr, ex Confederate lieutenant colonel, reassured white southerners that they  “have no apologies to offer, no excuses to render, no regrets to utter, save that we failed in our high endeavor. . . We were overborne by superior numbers and weightier munitions . . . [and] nothing has been absolutely determined except the question of comparative strength.” He continued by ranting about the need to program white children to “be taught to emulate the example of their Confederate ancestors.” The point here is that that damned “Lost Cause” is being emulated in Israel in exactly the way white southerners and other racists would behave if they weren’t “overborne by superior numbers” today.

Israel Is Almost The Mirror Image Of Nazi Germany - ImgflipIsrael is one more historic example of Lord Acton’s 1887 rule, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (1887) and the more depressing corollary attributed to so many authors I have long given up looking for its origin, “Choose your enemies wisely, for you will become them.” For the past 76 years, any mirror an Israeli might chose to look into would reflect back an image that even someone as brutal and amoral as Benjamin Netanyahu would try to reject. Try as they might, the image will stick for as long as human history is recorded. Just like the American South and its history of slavery and repression and violence, once you’ve put that flag into the ground, that property is marked for all of human history.

The current crop of MAGA Republicans and the historic supporters of Israel from both parties are either proudly seeing their racist dreams come true in Israel or becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the reflection of their position in the world. When lifetime supporters like Democratic Representative Sara Jacobs of California are being whipped at both ends, it’s obvious that no middle-ground position is safe, “In San Diego, I’ve been protested by people who think that I’m not sufficiently calling for a ceasefire and those who think I’m not doing enough for Israel — some of whom I’ve known my entire life. It’s really turned into two separate camps. The more you try and carve out a middle, the more neither camp really feels like home.” As usual, the people who know the least about the situation are convinced their insights are “fresh” and valuable. Anyone who is convinced they have the answer to this war is deluded, at best, and arrogantly foolish most likely.

Progressive Democrats are under attack for their realistic positions on Israel and that is being used to Republican advantage in the coming election. Liberal Democrat Jamie Raskin was stuck between a rock and hard place having to defend Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s words condemning Israel, “If I can’t stand up for somebody’s right to just express themselves in Congress without being censured, then I have lost my way constitutionally.” Republicans had no such qualms and even less respect for the Constitution and gleefully voted overwhelming to censor Tliab. Everything about Israel and Gaza and most of the Mideast is a lose-lose proposition for anyone in the US; politicians, businesses, and individuals. Normally, when that is the case the best option is to step away and see what develops.


The Upside of Being An Outsider

Scientific American magazine published an article titled, “In Atheists We Distrust.” The article opened with, “Atheists are one of the most disliked groups in America. Only 45 percent of Americans say they would vote for a qualified atheist presidential candidate, and atheists are rated as the least desirable group for a potential son-in-law or daughter-in-law to belong to.” The gist of the article is that all of those people with imaginary friends “distrust” atheists. Weirdly, this article claims that a research found “People identifying themselves as having no religious affiliation held similar opinions. Gervais and his colleagues discovered that people distrust atheists because of the belief that people behave better when they think that God is watching over them.” Of course, “no religious affiliation” just describes people who spend Sunday at a bar watching football and praying for some god to help their team beat the snot out of some other team, so that isn’t particularly interesting information.

From my Midwestern perspective, I’ve mostly decided that superstitious people have such a tenuous hold on their “beliefs” that any sort of challenge to the existence of their particular “god in the mirror” is too much to stand. The “individual quality” of the gods those people worship is also suspiciously mirror-like. And, with even minimal knowledge of modern astronomy, physics, and neurology, it takes a shitload of “confidence” (i.e. “ego”) to believe there is anything special in this universe about an individual human. As a lifetime outsider to the whole mystical experience and an introverted observer of human weirdness, I’ve seen this behavior from every “god-fearing:” character in my life; from my father and family to co-workers and acquaintances to public figures. (Especially black collar public figures whose outrage and general intolerant behavior I’ve always written off as financially motivated. After all, if enough people were atheists, nobody would get to pretend to speak for the gods.)   

In the past few decades, I’ve somewhat modified my opinion to something more like, “Nobody believes this shit, based on their behavior.” You can make a pretty rational argument that everyone is statistically atheist because of the currently existing approximately 4,200+ religions, churches, denominations, religious bodies, faith groups, tribes, cultures, movements, or otherwise supernatural beliefs, few of us believe more than one of the pack. 1/4200th is 2.380952380952381e-4 or approximately 0.024% away from no faith in the supernatural at all. In all of human history, there have been at least 10,000 religions. A 1/10,000th belief is close enough to zero for reasonable and practical purposes. Either of those options demonstrate hardly a significant difference between the faithful and atheists. Other than arrogance and tradition, picking a god to believe in is about as random a choice as possible. So, you might as well invent one as take on an existing god. It’s obvious from behavior and conversations away from peers that a substantial number of “the faithful” pretend to be so for social, financial, and other cultish reasons. In those situations, I’ve had a number of ministers admit to me that their own personal faith is considerable less magically-based than the one they project to their parishioners/minions. Back in the Sam Kinison days, it was almost popular for fundamentalist ministers to tryout different career options, admitting they’d been in the religion thing for the money. At least in the US, we’ve regressed a long ways since then and the majority of Americans are back pretending they believe the same shit as everyone else. Cult behavior, in other words.

Again, in my experience and observation, it is fascinating how much even a supposed single god, like the Jewish Jehovah Yahweh, Elohim, the Lord, God, and his/her/its other pseudonyms has at least as many personality traits as believers. And, on a personal basis, those gods more accurately reflect the personality, habits, interests, prejudices, and other traits of the believer than any description on the various holy books. Which is why I call those various deities “the God in the mirror.” It’s pretty obvious that “God created man in his own image” is the reverse of the objective facts. Men and women create their gods in almost exactly their own image; or the image they have of themselves.

For the nearly-70-years I have been an atheist, it seems to me that I have saved a ton of time, money, and energy for useful activities by missing out on the whole magical world thing. I not only don’t have to tithe to some self-proclaimed Speaker-to-God, I don’t have to knock on wood, worry about stepping on sidewalk cracks, carry a rabbit’s foot, wear offensive and uncomfortable jewelry, or worry about what kind of life I’ll have to suffer after death.

And suffering it would be if the after-life my family and neighbors describe is anything like the real thing their heaven would be. I first got a hint of what that would be like as a little kid in my father’s Dodge City Methodist Church. Those “joyful voices” our minister kept calling for were clearly pitch and rhythmically impaired and the polar opposite of anything that could be described as “:heavenly.” Demonic, maybe. Heavenly, definitely not. Crows make happier and more musical noises as do cats.

When my mother died at 34, the “comfort” my family was given from the church and its members amounted to “God works in mysterious ways.” Clearly, not a satisfying answer for anyone smarter than a brick. I was rapidly falling into the group of “people who reject religion because they find a god either insufficiently loving or insufficiently credible.” When my father and I argued about his church attendance requirement, he responded with “Live in my house, go to my church.” A few weeks later, I’d rented a tiny trailer with a friend and I moved out on my own the summer I turned 16 and lived there until I graduated high school and was “finished” with my first year of college (I dropped out.). When my father and step-mother were old, disabled, and no longer in a financial position to pour money and energy into their church, that church vanished from their lives.

Living in the Midwest for most of my life, I’ve been exposed to every variety of what passes for “Christianity” this country has to offer. A few, like Unitarian Universalists have enough other positives to outweigh the occasional mythical and superstitious fantasies, but most are based on cult-like conformity and fear of the impossible unknown (a vengeful god or his bad-tempered fiery sibling). I do not see any advantage, other than not being “different,” to pretending to believe in this silliness and at my age I care even less than before what people think of me for not playing make-believe religious games.


My Vietnam War Memories

Yesterday was, as the US Army’s website reminds us, another dubious memorial day, “The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 was signed into law by President Trump, designating every March 29 as National Vietnam War Veterans Day.” President Bonespurs cynically pronounced a day of memorial for people he called “suckers” and “losers” A friend reminded me, via Facebook, that Friday was when we should all honor the sacrifice that was made for our freedom in that war. The ruling class, like Trump, believes we should celebrate the money they made from profiting on wars and the distraction those wars provided from the damage that they were doing to our nation and the world. From 1955-75, that twenty-year war caused 1.1 million Vietnamese war dead and Vietnamese civilian deaths was in excess of 2.0 million. There is no way to describe the Vietnam War as anything but an empirical invasion of a foreign nation with no national interests justification. The same goes for practically every war the US has entered into since the Revolutionary War, al 107 of them. The US South would argue that even our own Civil War was an empirical invasion. If there is a human history after the USA collapses under the usual internal battles that have destroyed every empire in history, I imagine our national sport will be recorded as “war, with football, baseball, jazz, and Hollywood as recreational distractions.”

“Praise the Lord, this is the Vest residence,” was how Don answered the phone in 1974, the last time I saw him. My little family was passing through Salina, on our way back to Nebraska from visiting my family in Dodge City for some warm-weather holiday, and I took a slightly longer route home to see my old friend,. Don had experienced some rough years since the last time I’d seen him. In early 1970, Don had been one of the most rock-steady drummers I’d ever had the pleasure of playing with. We met while still in high school, he was clinging to the tattered remains of a K.U. college basketball scholarship that was rescinded when his knee wouldn’t recover from a late season high school game injury. I never saw Don play basketball, but he was such a “natural” athlete I have no problem imaging him playing at a level far beyond average.

When we met, I was in the last semester of my dismal high school senior year. Don had been a standout star basketball player at Dodge’s Sacred Heart Cathedral Catholic School, but a knee injury had taken him out of the lineup and blown up his future. In 1965, Vietnam was growing into the threat it would become for all of my generation’s male victims and we were thrashing around a bit trying to figure out where that war would intersect our lives. For some of us, especially the non-white “us,” it was obvious there would be no escape from becoming cannon fodder. The draft loomed large at our 18th birthdays, like a huge black wall blocking every possible escape. Looking back now, I realize that my friends and I played music the way we did as a scream of desperation and protest. For most of us, our WWII fathers did their best to make military “service” seem like an honorable obligation. I know mine did.

From early spring in 1965 until just before I left Kansas for Dallas, Texas in 1968, I lived in a tiny trailer on the south side (“the poor side of the tracks”) of Dodge, with a band on the road or a shared trailer in Hays, Kansas, or in a lean-to on the Arkansas (pronounced are-can-sus in Kansas) River west of town a few miles. One of my fondest memories of Don was while I was on the river, he’d hiked out to spend an afternoon with me hunting. We both had single-shot .22’s, but his was much more of a gun than mine; because he was using it. There wasn’t much to shoot at that day. Usually, I lived on jack rabbits, pheasant, and eggs from the egg distributor who also ran the trailer court where I sometimes lived. We hiked along the river, heading west toward Cimarron, probably talking about whatever gig we’d recently had or one in the future. Don pointed west and said, “See that Blue Jay in the tree?” And I said, “What tree?” (There weren’t and aren’t a lot of trees in Kansas.) He aimed at something and shot. We hiked for a good while and, finally, came to a tree and there was a dead Blue Jay on the ground.

In 1967, I’d bombed out of my Navy physical because of asthma (that I didn’t know I had until the Navy doc flunked me), moved to Dallas for a Trump-style fraudulent “computer tech school,” met the love of my life and was at the tail-end of a brief stint as a folk singer and struggling to survive as sole-support for the two of us. Don and Ed, two ex-bandmates from Kansas, drove to Dallas to hang with me and Ms. Day before heading out to Army basic training. Those two, and Ms. Day, were my best, dearest friends and it felt like we were saying “goodbye” way too early in all of our lives. Ed would go on to specialize in the Army’s pitiful electronics technician program and spent his military time in Germany. Don would become an Army sniper in Vietnam.

My attitude toward the war shifted during the months that I was waiting to be inducted and the day I flunked my physical, thanks to the Hutchinson New’s syndication of David Halberstam’s New York Time’s Vietnam reporting. Aoso, thanks to my new Dallas hippie friends, I’d also read Halberstam’s The Making of a Quagmire: America and Vietnam During the Kennedy Era and his second piece of “fiction, One Very Hot Day and my opinion of that war and my country’s values were shifted left for life. Don had to leave first and Ms. Day remembers the two of us playing basketball at an outdoor court somewhere before he headed off to basic training. Ed and I played at the Rubaiyat.with a jug band assortment of freaks and players before he also left for basic.

I tried to stay in touch with both of them from my “safe” life in Texas, but Ed was quickly offended by my anti-war attitude and cut off communications emphatically not long after he landed in Germany for the duration of his “service.” Don and I wrote often and I wish I’d saved his letters, but almost nothing from my pre-1983 life survived the move from Nebraska to California. Don went from being, like me, a Kansas yokel to a deadly assassin to the most courageous war protester I will ever know. After several “missions” of dubious morality he, somehow, managed a transfer from Vietnam to Germany in the laughable Criminal Investigation Division (CID). Don’s description of the several-floors-underground, ex-Nazi SS basement secret quarters, CID offices was surrealistic, at best, and indicative of the US military’s decent into decadence, at worst. By then, Don was convinced the entire US military and government needed a criminal investigation. My memory of 50-year-old events is sketchy, but I hope I always remember some of Don’s description of his deciding to take a blanket to an Army warehouse, in the dead of a German winter, strip off his uniform, and refuse to leave or obey orders until he was given his release from the Army.

As a result of his protest, Don received a “general discharge” and returned to Kansas where I ran into him, again, when Ms. Day and I attempted to escape Texas in 1969 for Oregon or Washington, but our ‘63 Ford Ranchero full of meager belongings and a cat and us died in northern Oklahoma and barely delivered us to Dodge City. Don was taking an electronics course at the sad excuse for a local tech school and suggested that I might also want to try that route. I found a job as a welder at a local manufacturer, enrolled in the tech school program, and six months later had to drop out and “get a real job” because Ms. Day was pregnant. During that six months, Don and I formed another band and played regularly as a 3-piece power rock band with another guy who fumbled along as our bass player.

Ms. Day’s pregnancy (and another one two years later) forced my career decisions for the next decade and I’ve written a good bit about those years. I mostly lost touch with Don, Ed, and my past life as a wannabe-rock-star. In late September, 1970, Don was convicted of marijuana possession and “intent to sell” and got a 6 month jail sentence for that ridiculous “crime.” That pretty much put a nail in his future and, according to Ed and other sources, Don had quite a few problems with drugs and the law afterwards.

In 1974, after the “praise the lord” telephone announcement, I spent a few hours with Don and his family in Salina (as I remember it). He was some kind of fundamentalist, unordained by anything other than his belief in his god, self-proclaimed “minister” and I was still the savage atheist I’d be my whole life. He made a living as a carpenter and his home was a beautiful demonstration of those skills. I don’t remember much about that visit, but Don was clearly struggling to find himself and it was the last time I would see him. Three years later, Don would be divorced and living in an even more dilapidated Kansas town. The stories I heard about him from the 80s until the early 2000s had him in and out of legal trouble and dying somewhere between those years.

Obituary | Donald Joseph Vest of Great Bend, Kansas | Bryant Funeral Home  and Nicholson-Ricke Funeral HomeWhen I sat down this morning to write this Google surprised me with the fact that Don died in 2021. His obituary indicates that he’d found some kind of peace and regained a good bit of who he was. I can not reconcile this picture of a ZZ Top-looking guy with the tall, blond, athletic boy-and-man I knew, but I love the fact that he, at last, seems happy with his life. I feel like I missed years of opportunity to reconnect with my old friend because I’d believed he died at least 20 years earlier.


What Am I Missing Here?

Religion and country music have always baffled me and there are a lot of similarities. Both are mostly full of pointless nonsense and both rely on irritating faux-Southern accents to fake sincerity. Religion, apparently, gives the hopeless hope or some such thing. The idea, apparently, is that while this world sucks the next one will be a reward for getting through this one? That seems to me to be a good and useful excuse to do nothing to improve this world. Country music gives the illiterate cornpones something to relate to that isn’t complicated or creatively demanding. There was a long period of my youth where I believed that if I could figure out why people liked country music I’d have the keys to easy fortune. I probably figured it out, but it wasn’t worth the sacrifices I’d have to make to tolerate my victims.

Christianity and assorted cults and superstitions have infested my part of the country so thoroughly that admitting to being a non-believer may be the worst moral failure one can commit. According to several surveys of US citizens, being an atheist makes a person less reliable, less moral, less intelligent, and more unlikeable than practically every other awful thing a human can be. Based on the regular criminal activities, improprieties, and general despicable-ness of Black Collar criminals,it’s hard to figure where religion gets any sort of claim to morality. It’s enough to make me want to migrate northeast to Maine or Vermont where 69% of the population “never attend church or religious services, or go less than once a year,” which is not the same as being atheists but is as rational as the US gets. The top five rational US states are Maine, Vermont (69%), Oregon (65 %), New Hampshire (64%), and Washington state (63%). The closest thing to a “shithole country” in the US, Mississippi, is the most superstitious state at 18%. I was pretty fond of Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Washington before reading that data. Now, I’m practically packing to escape Minnesota’s embarrassing 29%.

What has always baffled me about the end goal of almost all religions is the desperate hope for a life-after-death. My father was a less-than-convinced Christian his whole life, but when his final days arrived he was desperate and terrified, the exact opposite of what I’d assumed was the goal in being a Christian. If, after a life of trying to conform to the rules of his religion, he had no confidence in where he was going after death, what was the point? The ONLY thing I can see that religion might provide is that kind of comfort and assurance. If it fails at that, the religion and “faith” has failed entirely.

And that is the point of it all that I am missing. I find absolutely nothing about dying and fading into non-existence to be scary. Life is hard, often cruel, more often disappointing, painful, and, at the end, often incredibly sad. After death, all of that is over and done. I believe, as I have for the overwhelming majority of my days, that I am my brain and the electro-chemical impulses that happen in that small space and large assortment of cells. That’s it. Hit me on the head, hard enough and in the right place, and I might become someone else. That being a known and well-established fact should be enough to blast any delusions or misconceptions about the existence of “soul” outside of rhythmic music appreciation. When my brain dies, the person you and I know as “me” is dead and gone from the universe. Yeah, I know you can’t “destroy” energy, but that electro-chemical energy in my head will become something considerably less organized (“Inconceivable! I know.) and most of it will dissipate as heat. I find absolutely nothing about all of that to be afraid of. I’m a little nervous about the possibility that those last few seconds of my brain shutting down might involve a shitload of pain, but that will last no more than a minute if it happens at all. For me, all of that is a comfort not something I worry about.

Compare that to the obvious fear religious people have of not having been good enough, not having converted enough of the rest of us to their sect, and all of the other fear-inducing concepts behind practically every religion humans have devised. If form follows function, as it always wants to be doing, the function of religion is clearly to provide money, power, and status to the shamans and priests. Good for them, but useless to the rest of us. The forms are the rituals, the rules, and the mind-control tactics, but if they don’t provide comfort when it counts, they are worse than useless. Those forms definitely do not seem to restrict or improve behavior. Christianity and the other Abrahamic religions have never demonstrated any sort of improved behavior and are more often used to justify wars, prejudice, inequity, theft and deception, and hate. So, again, I do not see what I am missing by abstaining from magical thinking.


“Democrats have done nothing for . . . “

A friend recently claimed that “Democrats have done nothing for young people” and I began to question that person’s math skills. “Nothing” means zero, nada, no benefit whatsoever. It pains me to know that someone who should know better is as clueless about the meaning of zero as 3rd Century Mesopotamians. The Biden White House has published a web page explaining all of the things they have done for young people: “Fact Sheet: President Biden and Vice President Harris Are Delivering For Young Americans.” The list is impressive, but the media (right and left) also appears to be unable to decipher numbers. I’m not going to repeat that data and I’m going to take the wild chance that my readers are curious enough to follow the damn link, but “$117 billion in targeted relief for 3.4 million student loan borrowers, including borrowers with total and permanent disabilities, those cheated by their colleges, those in public service, and more” is a LOT more than “nothing.”

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this kind of nonsense. A union welder acquaintance recent claimed “Democrats have done nothing for working people.” To be clear, this man was solely concerned that pipelines wouldn’t be built and he wouldn’t be raking in the usual “$36 and $52 an hour” building those infamous pollution systems. However, there are plenty of jobs for welders in infrastructure work and that doesn’t require decimating the nation’s fresh water supplies or contributing to the inhospitality of the planet to current lifeforms. Biden’s “Build Back Framework” could “add an average 1.5 million jobs per year for the next 10 years.

Photos show bodies piled up and stored in vacant rooms at Detroit hospital  | CNNIf not mismanaging the pandemic so badly that US cities were stacking up bodies in refrigerated trailers isn’t doing something for young and old, skilled and unskilled labor, and all of the rest of us, we’re in a pretty weird state of decline. This kind of faulty and deceptive hyperbola is not adding value to the national dialog. If supposedly educated people are unclear on what “nothing means,” we’re in big trouble; and, of course, we’re in big trouble. 

Lastly, but most importantly, the current Democratic Party offers something no other entity in the country can provide: a slight chance that the "great experiment" that the United States of America represents might, somehow, become a democracy.  There are no Republicans in office in the federal government who represent any of the ideals of democracy. From the despicable oligarchs hiding in the Federalist Society to the obvious spokesperson for Republicans, Donald Trump, and the deplorable rabble of voters and seditionists, Republicans are the worst of this nation's terrible worst and they represent the nation's decent into fascism and chaos. I challenge you to name a single Republican currently in office who is not in favor of demolishing the democratic structure of this country. There are no counterparts in the Republican Party for Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown, Tammy Baldwin, Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock, John Fetterman, and at least 15 other progressive and liberal Senators who are fighting for all of us, apparently, without much appreciation. In the US House of Representatives, there are a few dozen progressive and liberal Democratic members, apparently, going equally unappreciated. Again, there are no Republican comparables with any sort of claim to democratic values. The choice has not been this clear since the 1860s, you are either working to elect the most democratic Democrats or you are voting fascist. If that isn't "something," fuck you. 


How It Happens

When I was a younger man and my father was the age I am now, I wondered how he could be so isolated after the life he’d had. He’d been a high school teacher in the same small town for more than 40 years, a coach (basketball, football, and tennis), had been an active member of the same church for that long, played golf and tennis better than most, and had a fairly active social life up until he retired. Like me, he was introverted and lived a lot of his life inside his head, but unlike me he had his church and friends he’d worked with for more than half of his life and lived in a town full of ex-students.

Like me, he’d retired under less-than-pleasant circumstances. He’d managed to finagle a fair number of math classes without having a math degree, which in the 90’s was a tough hike. Back then, the Kansas education system was still pretending to hold itself to something resembling standards. With new, younger school administration, he no longer had the clout of having “friends in high places” to protect his classes from younger teachers with better credentials. By the time he retired, his class load had been reduced to accounting and “business math” (stupid kid math) courses and he was fairly disgusted with both the assignments and the students. So, he retired before he was fired and there weren’t many of the people he’d worked with left in the school at that time.

My situation was slightly better for me, but about the same for the places where I worked. The only part of my three side-hustles that still had customers and paid consistently well was the “audio forensics” business I’d slid into a decade earlier, but working for lawyers means constantly having to fight to get paid. Like Trump’s fans brag about their Messiah, “You don’t get rich paying bills.” My two teaching gigs were steadily becoming less ethically sustainable: the music college had abandoned its vocational mission for bigger money with less work in academia and the “motorcycle safety” business steadily became more focused on “putting butts on seats” than safety. Both businesses were heading toward obsolescence and fighting it the dumbest way possible. Like my father, I could afford to retire and my personal mission was becoming harder to identify in both of those places.

Like my father, during my working life I had been pretty well ensconced in several “communities,” from education to motorcyclists to music and music technology to audiophiles to professional and amateur acoustics. I knew a lot of people who did a lot of different things. I had one big party to celebrate my 65th birthday (July 2013) and my retirement (I will always be sorry that I was so busy cooking for that party that I didn’t take a single picture of the people who came to wish me well.) and began my fade into black. I didn’t give up the motorcycle stuff until 2018, but I’d dramatically cut-back my course load to no more than a half-dozen classes a summer by 2017. Like my last couple of years at McNally Smith College of Music, I had become pretty vocal in my disappointment at the program’s lack of an honest mission and, I suspect, everyone was glad to see me go. I wasn’t unhappy to be leaving, either.

What I didn’t expect was to have, what I’d imagined to be friendships, vanish with the work. Most (99%) disappeared overnight, a few took a month or three to wander away, and a handful still bother to communicate with me occasionally. In retrospect, I think Ms. Day and I both underestimated and undervalued what we had in the Cities.Our 130-year-old house and 2 1/2 acre lot had become mostly a chore and the noise of that location seemed to me to be screaming “Get out while you can still hear the noise!” We made a fairly detailed list of priorities for a new home and, for me, noise levels were high on the list. Due to other considerations, including a price range that we could afford in cash, we mostly ended up looking outside of the Cities and settled in Red Wing. I grossly overestimated the tourist attraction of Red Wing and I have been surprised that so few of our friends have ever visited us here. I also over-estimated my willingness to stay involved in local activities, especially the motorcycle and music stuff with which I expected to fill my retirement time. Not that different from my father’s expectations for golf and tennis.


A Gift to Remember

Back in the early 90s, a work friend and I split a Denver Nuggets’ season pass for the 1992-1995 seasons. The 1993-1994 season was a particular highlight as the team was actually decent for the first time in a lot of years. The Nuggets lineup was deep and included Dikembe Mutombo (center), LaPhonso Ellis (forward), Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf (guard, aka Chris Jackson, prior to the season), Rodney Rogers (forward), Reggie Williams (forward), Bryant Stith (guard), Robert, Pack (guard), and Brian Williams (center). I’m sure most of those names are now lost to sports history, but at the time they were up-and-coming young players who set at least one record that year. They were exciting to watch and Denver’s McNichols Auditorium was a fun place to watch a basketball game.

The ‘93-‘94 Nuggets (42-40) were the youngest team in the league and the last seed in the Western Conference playoffs and the Seattle Sonics (63-19) were the first. After losing the first two games in Seattle, the Nuggets won both of their home games and went back to Seattle and beat the Sonics 98–94 in overtime. I had tickets for the first two home games. In the second round, they almost did the trick again, taking the Utah Jazz to a 7th game before losing that series.

Mahmoud Abdul-RaufEarly in the next (‘94-‘95 season, Abdul-Rauf began to speak out against the US invasion and occupation of Iraq and the US positions in North Africa. He had converted to Islam and made a point of not standing for the anthem because he interpreted that act as worshiping idols and he called the US flag “a symbol of oppression.” He took a public opinion beating from both the fans and the local and national press. Denver, contrary to current fascist delusions, is not a particularly liberal or progressive city and sports fans in general are “conservative” in all of the worst ways. Abdul-Rauf went from being a fan favorite to being his sports generation’s version of Colin Kaepernick overnight and, like Kaepernick was eventually suspended from the NBA and spent the rest of his career in European basketball. Born Chris Jackson in Mississippi, Abdul-Rauf had plenty of experience with US repression and oppression from the start. He was also cursed with Tourette’s Syndrome and it could be “entertaining” to be near the court when he was bringing the ball up, spouting random curses and sound effects. Fans once appreciated his ability to work past that handicap, but they quickly turned into vicious grade school bullies when he demonstrated that he had a conscience.

Almost immediately, Brian Williams spoke out in support of his teammate’s convictions and in agreement with the fact that the US’s history in the Middle East is nothing to be proud of. Likewise, Brian quickly became a pariah to the city’s basketball fans and a fair number of his teammates. You might guess from reading this blog that I didn’t disagree with either Brian or Mahmoud and felt compelled to say so in a letter to the Rocky Mountain News’ editor, which was published in that paper’s Letters section.

A couple of days later, I was home, late in the day, and the phone rang. I answered and the deepest voice I have ever heard responded, “Is this Mr. Day? This is Brian Williams. I wanted to thank you for your letter of support.” I, of course, was convinced that some friends were pulling my leg and said so in particularly ungracious terms. Brian was patient, funny, and finally convinced me that he was who he said he was. He was extremely complementary about the things I’d written in my letter, which made me incredibly suspicious that I was still being pranked. We had a fairly long conversation, as much about basketball as politics or music. (Brian’s father, Eugene Williams of the Platters, had sung the national anthem at a game earlier and proved that there was nothing wrong with the McNichols sound system that decent mic technique wouldn’t cure.) As we were wrapping up the call, Brian mentioned that he’d left three floor seats for me at will-call for the next evening’s game.

The only time I have had floor seats for a big-boy’s basketball game was at the NJCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship in Hutchinson, Kansas. I have no idea what those Nuggets tickets cost, but it was way out of my league. The team was very popular, games sold out regularly, and the seats my friend and I shared were well into the nose-bleed sections. Still suspecting I was being pranked, I called some friends and asked if anyone wanted to go with me. I was probably a reluctant salesman because of my suspicion, but I couldn’t find any takers. I worked a long way down my list of friends and acquaintances without finding any interest. Without much to lose, other than minimal self-respect, I went to the game alone.

As I was standing in the will-call line, a young man with an adolescent daughter were trying to find scalped tickets, since the game was sold out. I collected my 3 tickets and offered two to him. Since I hadn’t paid anything for them, I thought it would be disrespectful to ask for money and I didn’t. I don’t think he had any idea that they were floor tickets until they found their seats. I’d also been given a coupon at the counter and wandered over to the concession are to see what the coupon was for. It was for this jacket and that was not a cheap item.

When I joined my guests on the floor, I wore the jacket through the game. I suspect, thinking that the two people sitting beside me were old friends, Brian made a point of swinging by our seats several times giving the girl high-fives as he passed. His hand was about the same size as her body, so they were very careful high-fives. Until you’ve watched professional play at close range, you have no idea how different their game is than what you’re used to. Those giant, ripped, fast young men would make Viking berserkers cower under their shields and they could run down wild game or beat down predators with their huge, bare hands. Even though he didn’t love basketball, when he played he played with passion, energy, and an astounding level of skill.

We stayed in touch, rarely, through email from that Denver game to my first year in Minnesota, in 1996, until he started playing with the Chicago Bulls when the ‘96 season started. After being a Lakers’ fan while I lived in California and a Nuggets fan from ‘91 to ‘96, the Timberwolves were a letdown and I wandered away from my last vestige of sports fandom. Brian was a critical part of the 1996 Chicago Bulls championship team and he almost enjoyed that season. He always wanted to be doing something he enjoyed as much as he imagined his father enjoyed music, though. He’d changed his name to Bison Dele in 1998 and I saved about a half-dozen of the email conversations we had over the years, but the last one came before the 1999-2000 Pistons were going to be in Minneapolis and I’d offered to meet him downtown for coffee or a beer, my treat. His last email said, “Coffee or beer, sounds good.” And I never heard from him again.

When the season ended, the Pistons offered him tens of millions to stay with the team, but he’d had all of basketball he could stand. I’ve read a lot about the last years of his life, but hadn’t kept up with him until his disappearance and, likely, death hit the news. This, “The Love Song of Bison Dele,” is the best wrap-up of his incredible life that I’ve seen and I’ve come back to read it several times.

I will remember Brian with his statement, “I always figured there were two ways to go. You can die from living, or you can die from just dying.” I still wear the jacket he gave me when the weather is right and I keep it stored in a cedar closet when it isn’t. Not long ago, I was grocery shopping wearing the jacket and an older man in a wheelchair and what appeared to be his son called me “Old School” and complemented me on my 30-year-old jacket. It reminded me that I have meant to tell this story for years and probably better do it soon or never. Ms. Day wanted a picture of me standing next to a guitar sculpture and that gave me one more reason to tell the story.


Freedom of Choice? We’re Being Invaded!

I had a couple of sobering experiences yesterdays that reminded me of the complications involved in keeping the human species from killing itself and every other major lifeform on the planet. As usual, if life wasn’t so funny it would be terrifying and depressing.

First, I had a doctor’s appointment to review the analysis of my failing right knee. I particularly like my physician because he has a very international view of medicine, life, and the world around him. As we went thorough my options regarding the beat-to-shit knee, we carried on our usual conversations about the world outside of my old, rotting body. Someone close to me once told me that all of the doctors in the world had conspired to treat Covid as if it were something much worse than the seasonal flu. He complained that he didn’t get “his check” for participating in that grand conspiracy to profit Big Pharma and whoever else supposedly benefitted from the pandemic. From there we had a laugh about the self-important goobers who imagined they were receiving Microsoft tracking chips with their vaccines. Again, no payment for that work to my doctor and I suggested he at least ask for a lifetime subscription for Microsoft Office and not that bullshit 365 crap, but the real thing on a DVD. And that was the funny part of the conversation.

The less funny part, from his perspective, is that when humans are confronted with evidence that their delusions are nothing more than bullshit they double-down on their bullshit. Cognitive dissonance seems to be exclusively a human mental defect, but it is a big one. When I asked if there was a way to get past that, in his experience, his response was, “No, we’re doomed.” I desperately wish I disagreed with him, but I don’t. Since I was a kid. in the 1950s, and first read C.M. Kornbluth’s novelette “The Marching Morons” I have had zero faith in the future of human beings as a species and my own best-case-scenario is that we find a clever way to kill ourselves off without taking every other form of life with us. Any reading of US history that isn’t pure conservative newspeak is full of the dullest, most violent, and the dumbest rolling over anything resembling logic and decency as easily as Trump cons his nitwits into sending him their spare change. “We’re doomed,” for sure. At best the 1% of humanity’s best and brightest will be doomed to babysitting the marching morons until the planet is uninhabitable.

Later that day, I limped to the local YMCA to try and reinstate my swimming routine after a couple of months of avoiding the pool until I knew if it was doing good or harm to my knee. When you are 75, a couple of months of low to moderate exercise does a lot of damage to your physical conditioning. My usual lame 1/4 mile routine too much for me and I was pretty discouraged when I gave up on the swim and headed to the sauna before braving this year’s mild December evening. There was one guy in the sauna and I picked the opposite end of the room to stew in my frustration. Within a few minutes, the sauna was almost full of middle-aged men showing off their flabby naked bodies and I should have passed on the experience. Their conversation was as depressing as my swimming failure and I sunk into a steaming funk as I listened to a pair of nitwits babbling about the “border crisis” and other equally obscure-to-Minnesota subjects they know nothing about.

The big takeaway I got from their conversation was that they are major breeders of stupid. I wasn’t interested enough to keep an accurate track of their family mobs, but I am fairly certain that everyone in the sauna had at least 5 offspring. All of whom were somewhat-to-seriously involved in mindless school sports. For sure, with all of the preening and bragging not one of those obvious-Trumpers had a kid who was competing in the USA Mathematical Olympiad, the Scripps National (or even the city or state) Spelling Bee, the National Speech and Debate Tournament, or any of the 30 national high school academic competitions. (I linked those competitions, just in case you don’t believe there is anything other than sports for your kid to excel in, you fuckin’ idiot shoulda-been-sterilized-at-birth goober.)

In this country, practically throughout the nation’s history, we have celebrated the luckiest 1%, not the smartest. The half-wits who stumbled into wealth through inheritance or good fortune or both end up being the idols of millions and those who work hard, take almost every step of accomplishment our species has managed, and make the rest of us look like the the extinct human species we came from are mostly ignored. As I have said more than once, “I’m not worried about AI, but LI is gonna kill us all.” The fourth of the “The 5 basic laws of human stupidity” is “Non-stupid people always underestimate the destructive power of stupid individuals” and the fifth is “A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.” They are everywhere and their population is growing exponentially, even as world population growth slows. In fact, for the most part the only humans who are currently breeding are fools,. So, “we are doomed.”


Freedom of Choice? How to Make A Cult

You can’t get very far into this subject without an argument about what a “cult” is. So I’m going to stuck with Webster’s for a definition, because I usually do.

  1. as in audience: a group of people showing intense devotion to a cause, person, or work (as a film)
  2. as in religion: a body of beliefs and practices regarding the supernatural and the worship of one or more deities

Mrs. Day and I were talking about the odd devotion people we know have toward a variety of pop stars: from the Beatles to Taylor Swift or John Wayne to Keano Reeves. We know old-ass men who worship the Beatles with at least as much fervor as teenage girls texting about Taylor Swift. To be honest, we weren’t just academically interested. Mrs. Day and I really wanted to know “What is that about and how do I get my own cult?” Because if you can attract enough members to your cult, you never have to worry about money. Donald Trump sold 2,024 scraps from a cheesy tarp-sized blue suit he wore for his mugshot for $4,654 a scrap. That is more than $4.7M dollars for a suit J.C. Penney’s would have discounted or put in a seconds bin! So, “how do I get my own cult?” is a serious question. Now the two of us have a goal, a definition of what that goal looks like, and a purpose for reaching that goal.

First, we need that devoted “audience.” If you are really serious about this objective, math is on your side. There are about 320M people in the USA alone and 8.1B in the world, but let’s concentrate on the US and let the ROW cash flow come as it will. If I can get myself or my product (for example: a popular song) in front of a lot of people, say 10% of the bodies in the USA, I will have am uncommitted audience of 3.2M people. If I mostly suck, I might end up with 1% of that group who hear my song and pay attention to the name of the song, they might want to know who the artist is, look up when I might be performing nearby, buy some of that artist’s (my) music, and, if I really get lucky, they “follow” me throughout their lives like Beatles, Rolling Stones, Clapton, Grateful Dead, Neil Young, Springfield, and those really obscure British Invasion band fans. Those followers become members of the “cult of me.”

If I’m even a little bit special, 1% of that first group of 10% leaves me with a a fan/cult-base, a “cult group,” of 360,000. And that’s if I suck and/or didn’t get enough exposure to really be a hit. Casinos all over the world are well-stocked with performers who suck, but still collected enough attention to have a modestly lucrative cult following. (I’m talking about you, Teddy “Captain Poopypants” Nugent.) Taylor Swift has at least a 93% saturation rate (256M), supposedly 44% of US adults consider themselves Taylor Swift “fans” (258M over 18) and about 40M more between 10 and 18 (~275M total). Supposedly, 16% of that huge first group consider themselves to be “avid” fans and are almost certain to be the minimum size group for the Swiftie cult. That is a cult with 44M members. She’s the either the first or the second largest church/cult in the USA and she has fans worldwide.

If she was an asshole, I’d be worried. Pop history tells us mostly “what you see is what you get.” Ted Nugent was an asshole as a young man and is still one. Bruce Springsteen was a pretty cool guy as a young man and is a bit cooler today. Willy Nelson was cool out of the womb. Donny Trump was born a turd and just got smellier with age. So, I’m not worried about Swift and the Swifties. She (and her fans) got a pretty serious boost to her cred when Teddy Nugent publicly whined about her. Anything Teddy is afraid of (more likely, jealous of) is good enough for me.

While Swift certainly sets the high and enviable bar for creating a successful cult, she doesn’t make getting up there seem any easier. She is an incredibly hard working artist and performer. I don’t want to be a hard working anything and it it worked for Trump that means there is a pretty easy-to-achieve low bar for creating a cult, too. Donald Trump's personality cult and the erosion of U.S. democracy - The  Washington PostThat’s the one I want to aim at, even without the advantage of being handed somewhere around $800M just for being born into the right, cutthroat family. Of course, if I started out with $800M I wouldn’t be wasting my time messing with goobers like the nitwits who belong to Trump’s cult. I don’t want those imbeciles in my country, let alone anywhere near me. I am even nervous about getting anywhere near their money.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi profile | The Beatles BibleThat is a problem with creating a cult, too. It’s not like cult members are anyone’s idea of the “best and brightest.” From Joseph Smith’s original Mormons to the Beatles and their nitwit Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Transcendental Meditation entourage, true believers are kind of gross in a simple-minded, hyper-gullible, sticky-clingy, lay-down-with-dogs-and-get-up-with-fleas way that makes me want to take a shower after looking at them. That is a show-stopping problem for a wannabe cult leader. You have be someone like Trump who can loudly and proudly stand in front of people he despises and tell them what they want to hear. Man, if I’d have thought this out earlier I might have passed on the whole idea. Talk about being surrounded by people you don’t want to be near, this is getting totally out of hand. Still, the idea of collecting a few hundred thousand followers who will happily and stupidly empty their pockets and bank accounts for my benefit is tempting. I’m going to have to think about this more.

I’ll get back to you.


The Death Cult that Wants to Kill Us All

There was a phase in the early period of Christianity where the clear objective was to die and go to Never-never Land as fast as possible. One of the first Christian sects, the Donatists, inspired a nutty group of fanatics called the Circumcellions who would initiate spontaneous acts of violence on strangers in the hopes of getting their asses killed and obtaining martyrdom status (sound familiar?). As one author put it, “The logic of Christianity leads to the disturbing conclusion that if heaven is better than this life, then death is a good and desirable outcome.” The nutjob Federalist Society even published an article titled “For Christians, Dying From COVID (Or Anything Else) Is A Good Thing” where the author wrote, “For one thing, Christians believe that life and death belong entirely to God. There is nothing we can do to make our days on earth one second longer or shorter.” Joy Pullman goes on to pile one nutty superstitious claim on top of many others, but the main point is “For another thing, for Christians, death is good.” Add taking as many non-believers and believers with you as possible to this philosphy is “the Christian thing to do.”

The early leaders of the Catholic Church saw that this interpretation of the Bible would lead to an quick disappearance of their source of resources and followers. In the fifth century, Augustine wrote The City of God, which was Christianity’s first condemnation of suicide. In an effort to get some kind of renumeration even from the dead, as described in Wikipedia, “In the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas denounced suicide as an act against God and as a sin for which one could not repent. Civil and criminal laws were enacted to discourage suicide, and as well as degrading the body rather than permitting a normal burial, the property and possessions of both the person who died by suicide and of their family were confiscated.” [And today’s faux-conservatives bitch about inheritance taxes?]

Today’s breed of radical Christian “Crack Suicide Squads” are only slightly more subtle. They have no interest in caring for other humans, but they’ve snagged themselves on the crazy idea that their only path to heaven is to commit to having as many humans born as possible. Obviously, once a baby is born, they have no obligation to it in any way because . . . that would cost the idle rich who profit from superstition and foolishness some of their unearned money and . . . money.

As the author of one analysis of the Christian suicide cult wrote, “In fact, belief in heaven makes this life actively undesirable. The longer we live, the more chances we have to encounter temptation, fall into sin, and lose our salvation—the worst catastrophe imaginable. If heaven is the goal, then the younger we die, the better.This idea is taken to an extreme by Christian apologists who say that fetuses which die before birth go straight to heaven, bypassing human existence entirely. In this belief system, that’s the best possible outcome. The second best outcome is children who die before the age of accountability. They may suffer, but they never have a chance to lose their salvation.”

Knowing that is their belief certainly diminishes any hope one might have that Christians actually care about anyone but their own imaginary souls and their place at the right hand of an all-powerful vengeful Jehovah who will smite their enemies and grade school bullies and high school cool kids with plagues and lightening bolts. Actually, that sounds kinda Marvel Comics cool.

Now we have a buttload of Christian suicide culters in charge of at least one branch of the federal government, the grossly mis-named House of Representatives:

  • Current Speaker of the House Mike Johnson who in his earlier employment was a lawyer for the wall-to-wall Christian crazies Alliance Defense Fund, a group of radical nutbags who have dedicated themselves to imagining that not being able to discriminate against LGBTQ rights will send the country to Hell. In an earlier moment in his career of failures and corruption, Johnson was the founding dean of the private Louisiana College Southern Baptist law school, established in 2010, where Johnson claimed would “acknowledge the Judeo-Christian foundation of the legal system.” Gullible sponsors flushed $5 million into Johnson’s mythical university, but it never opened its doors. Johnson slithered away after two years as an idle, but well-paid, dean.
  • Marjorie Taylor Greene whose insanity, treason, insurrection, and stupidity  needs no further introduction.
  • Matt Gaetz, yet another whack job who would be happier as a private rural girls’ school Principal in an uneducated conservative southern state.
  • House Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan who should have stuck with overseeing pervert Ohio coaches and team doctors.
  • Rep. Bob Good (R-VA): “We should not fear a government shutdown. Most of what we do up here is bad anyway. Most of what we do up here hurts the American people, when we do stuff to the American people while promising to do things for the American people. Essential operations continue. 85% continues. Most of the American people won’t even miss if the government is shutdown temporarily.”
  • Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) “I love Andy Biggs. I know some people think he’s crazy, but that’s just because they don’t know him,” Krysten Sinema
  • Rep. Buddy Carter (R-GA) a classical fact-free-zone of Republican insanity.
  • Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) is one of two Representatives from a state that doesn’t have a large enough population to warrant any representation, Rosendale is a special case for reforming the structure of the US Constitution. “Rosendale touts his background as a real estate investor from Maryland who pretends he’s a rancher out on the range from almost all the way across the country, but all public records show, though, that Rosendale is a ‘rancher’ by way of just renting real estate out to others who actually do the ranching on that land.” In other words, Rosendale is just another Eastern millionaire taking advantage of gullible Montana rubes.
  • Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) is just like his Montana welfare state cohort, Rosendale, in his disrespect for the fools who vote for him. After running away from his Trump cabinet position in the wake of a collection of ethics violations, Zinke pretended to be an outsider looking out for his fellow Montana rubes in his House campaign. Wearing his ponyboy cowboy hat, he claims that “Despite the deep state's attempts to repeatedly stop me I stand before you as a duly elected member of the congress and tell you that a deep state exists… They want to wipe out the American cowboy.” Little fella, the cowboy barely existed for 20 years after the Civil War and that job is long gone and couldn’t even pretend to exist today without buttloads of federal farm assistance.
  • There are at least a half-dozen more Republican nutjobs in the House and as many equally suicidal characters in the Senate, but their names are hardly worth mentioning and their stories are too miserably despicable to research.

As another Christian critic wrote, “For the religious right, every war is a sign of the return of Jesus Christ, and the chance they’ll get to say, “I told you so. I was right. I was right all along.” Even if they have to burn down the world to prove it.” Sadly, “even” is the wrong word to chose in regard to the American Christian Taliban. They desperately want to take the whole world with them to prove they are right, but what they will prove to nobody (when no one is here to see it) is that we all get one life to live and that’s it.


Or This Guy (these guys?)

The previous essay, “ID’ing A Trumper” needed this additional character stereotype. The headline below his picture was:

Princeton, MN (KROC-AM News) - Five Minnesota law officers are recovering today from gunshot wounds suffered in an apparent exchange of gunfire with a 64-year-old man at a rural residence in central Minnesota this morning.

You know this doofus is a Trumper.

64 Year Old Suspect Surrender After 5 Minnesota Law Officers Shot 

Or all of these guys: 

Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2022 | ADL 

Mass Shooters' Most Common Trait—Their Gender—Gets Little Press Attention -  FAIR 

US Counter-Terrorism and Right-Wing Fundamentalism 

Assessing the right-wing terror threat in the United States a year after  the January 6 insurrection | Brookings