Friday, December 31, 2010


The 2012 presidential election is on. (As if it's ever been off.) But the unofficial first shot has been fired by former Arkansas governor and failed 2008 GOP candidate Mike Huckabee in the form of a TV spot advocating the repeal of the health care bill. Or, as Huck refers to it: a 2300-page monstrosity cooked up in "back room deals in the dead of night" and "forced on the American people, despite their kicking and screaming that they didn't want it." The spot urges all Americans to sign an online petition entitled "repeal it now," a phrase he seems to expect will go down in history as a clarion call of American defiance, along with "no taxation without representation," (which some elements of the GOP would love to amend to "no taxation"), and "Surrender? Nuts!" (Unless it was "surrender nuts," Eric Massa's admonition to his male staff members.) And at the bottom of the screen, pictures of key supporters of the repeal initiative, including noted American intellectuals Michael Reagan and Joe the Plumber.

Now, Huck seems life an affable guy. The former fattie preacher with the hound dog face, folksy smile and aw shucks manner even demonstrates occasional flashes of reasonableness, such as in a recent appearance on The Daily Show, in which he urged members of his party to support the 9/11 first responders bill. Still, for an opening salvo in his campaign, and given the fact that he probably refers to himself as "a man of God" I was expecting a little something more out of him. A little, I don't know... Honesty.

First of all, no one was kicking and screaming about this bill other than the insurance companies, their paid lobbyists like Dick Armey, their de facto lobbyists in congress, and the assorted goofballs they coaxed out of their La-Z-Boys to storm the town hall meetings and shout down any possibility of intelligent discussion or debate, fobbing it off as genuine outrage. As for the talking point about this bill being over 2300 pages, don't congresspersons have staffs trained in the dual arts of reading and summarizing? And as for the American people kicking and screaming, I don't recall seeing any kicking from parents whose kids will be allowed to remain on their policies until they're 26. And I don't remember hearing any screaming from either Democrats or Republicans about the fact that their insurance companies can no longer deny them coverage based on pre-existing conditions, or max out their coverage when they're hit with a serious illness. For all the bitching about "Obamacare," I still wonder which part of it Republicans hate more: the "Obama" part, or the "care" part.

In the commercial, Huckabee also talks about American voters being adults, who deserve to be treated as such. Well, the way to treat them as such is not by putting out some low-rent commercial with cheesy graphics, obligatory waving flags, and histrionic rhetoric, intending to obscure the facts while demonizing an important piece of legislation. Legislation that was passed through the democratic process. (Or maybe he just considers them an "activist congress?") And as for the exhortation to "spank Congress." That's just childish. And fucking dumb.

According to many cable pundits, Huck is the GOP frontrunner, assuming the Leona Helmsley of the Republican party, Queen Sarah, either punks out or self-destructs via her own venality or congenital stupidity. And if she runs, she will self-destruct, because no matter how many pet phrases her handlers teach her to say, they can never teach her to think. They can give her the names of books to claim she's reading, but they can't equip her to actually understand, let alone discuss the ideas inside. She will fall because she's defenseless against the one weapon she hasn't had to face in two years - the dreaded follow-up question.

But putting aside the interminable pondering over whether or not she'll run, chances are she's smart enough to read the polls reflecting her enormous unpopularity outside the GOP womb, and will just hit the trail to horse trade her popularity for fun and profit. Or maybe another great white hope will emerge. (Though it will be a challenge to find someone whiter than Romney.) But, for the moment, Huck looks like a contender.

So, please, Governor, if you want to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate -- up your game. You have problems with the health care bill? Make your case like an adult. Deal in facts, not histrionics. And be prepared to debate the facts in a public forum. If you don't understand the subtleties of the bill, study up. Or maybe start by wrapping your mind around a simpler concept. Like evolution. Cheesy, classless commercials like this may play to the base, but they negate you as a credible national candidate. However, if your goal is just to play to the base and come off like a clown, then don't stop with this childish commercial. Go all the way -- put on a dress, smear on some lipstick, grab a rifle, and get yourself a reality show.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Trigonometry #5: Rescue Me!

Yeah, she penned an op ed piece on Iran like I farted Mozart's Requiem. Let's examine this, shall we?

"Iran continues to defy the international community in its drive to acquire nuclear weapons."

Dogshit. She spells acquire with a "k." 

"Arab leaders in the region rightly fear a nuclear-armed Iran." 

Nuclear-armed? She wouldn't know a compound adjective if it kicked her in the twat. 

"We suspected this before, but now we know for sure because of leaked diplomatic cables." 

We? We who? We nuclear inspectors? We failed Veep candidates? We who bailed out on our office to cash in on our transitory and undeserved fame? We reality show whores? We Fox News contributors? We shrieking psycho bitches? 

"King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia "frequently exhorted the U.S. to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons program," according to these communications. Officials from Jordan said the Iranian nuclear program should be stopped by any means necessary. Officials from the United Arab Emirates and Egypt saw Iran as evil, an "existential threat" and a sponsor of terrorism. If Iran isn't stopped from obtaining nuclear weapons, it could trigger a regional nuclear arms race in which these countries would seek their own nuclear weapons to protect themselves."

She doesn't know where Saudi Arabia is. She thinks Jordan is the guy who played for the Bulls. She couldn't pick King Abdullah out of a lineup if he were paired with the Burger King and King Kong.  She doesn't write this shit. She's got some starry eyed, amoral staff cooz with a night school degree in creative writing who scribbles it for her. Give her a pen she'd try to stab a woodland creature with it.  I blame the fucking media. They report "Sarah Palin wrote," or "Sarah Palin tweeted" just 'cause they see her name on it. At some point, aren't you assholes supposed to ask questions? 

Trust me -- She doesn't write. She doesn't read. She doesn't tweet. She doesn't think. She just eats. She's a wolf. Like one of those wilderness creatures she so gleefully slaughters from a safe distance she shoots out insults while prowling the public highways for cash, free travel, and the glory she so perversely think she deserves. And it's my lot in life to be her stage prop 'cause she thinks it makes her come off like a proud, caring parent by constantly dragging around the retard. What's up with that? Who brings a kid onstage for a speech? She's got nannies up the wim-wam except when it's time for a photo op. Then it's "fetch me the 'tard." The woman's a cypher. She's a sham of a mockery of a sham. 

And I'm stuck.  She said I have to fucking hang there and flash the snaggle-tooth smile and cute retarded kid face or she won't feed me. Trust me -- If there's a smile upon my face, it's only there to fool the public. Mofo needs to eat. Shit. 

Somebody rescue me. Cut me loose from this bitch and hide me. Anywhere. A group home. Witness protection. Stuff me inside Mariah Carey and say she's having triplets. I don't care. I am not a prop! I am somebody! I deserve a life! In my dreams a stiff wind comes along, catches my elephant ears and flies me off to a magic land where I look like George Clooney and where tits are for fun and not food. 

Won't you make my dreams come true? Help! I'm dying here! 

Peace out.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Trigonometry #4: The Palindrone Strikes a Blow for Dessert!

Just when I think my mother the cash cow can't stoop any lower, she gets down on all fours and finds a way. Bad enough she lugs me around on that dumbshit reality show while she plays Annie Oakley, slaughtering defenseless woodland creatures. Man, what I wouldn't give to see that moose grab a tree branch and beat that fucking smile off her smug, pancaked face. Now she's gotta take a cheap political shot at the first lady over fucking s'mores!? S'mores?! This from a woman who puts the Ho in Hostess Twinkie. Guess you have to expect that from someone who's too fucking retarded to understand the intricacies of domestic policy. But, food. Yeah, that she gets. Fat = freedom! Just like the founding fathers wanted. Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, and lard. Just 'cause the first lady happened to notice that our national symbol is about to go from the bald eagle to the Flying Fat-Ass  'cause most of the country thinks gravy is a food group and that maybe it'd be a good idea to educate the seemingly uneducable about nutrition so that their asses don't look like the back of a fucking semi. Shit, have you looked at some of the fat bastards in this country. They don't need pockets on the backs of their jeans, they need mudflaps. Even country clod, good-ol' boy, and former fat kid Preacher/Governor Huck dissed her. There's an early shot for 2012. Take that, bitch! But leave it to her to tear down anything remotely intelligent. Just playing to her aptly named base. But, what do you expect, when a recent survey showed 78% of the American people doubt evolution. Maybe it's 'cause Sister Sarah loves to namedrop her precious God. 'Cause if God is everywhere, then he's the fattest fuck in the cosmos. So pork up, America. Shovel them pancakes down your gullet. It's your Christian duty.

Dammit, I'm mad.

Peace out.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Trigonometry #3: Palin in the Time of Cholera

Bitch won't take me to Disneyland, but she's got time to pal around with Billy Graham's retarded kid on a humanitarian mission to Haiti? Yeah. Dumbshit couldn't find Haiti on a map of Hispaniola. And who does she drag along? Fox News/Scientology ho Greta Van Susteren. 'Cause everybody knows when you're walking across the water to save souls, you take a long a news crew. Can you say "bullshit campaign stunt"? The great white healer comes out of the sky to save the stricken brown people with calls for military airlifts. I don't know, just handing out food and medical supplies to people who haven't worked for it? Sounds a little socialist to me. After all, according to that dick with ears Pat Robertson, God sent that earthquake to Haiti so He obviously meant for this to happen. God doesn't like Voodoo. Or French. It's the language of the devil. As opposed to that twangy patois that frames the milky discharge that oozes out of the mouth of the Great White dipshit herself. Man, I hope and pray Jesus does come back just so I can watch him pimp slap the living shit out of her. Right before he hits D.C. to take out every fat bastard Republican who thinks it's dissing Christmas to stick around to ratify a treaty that stops people from nukin' other people. Who fucking elects these people? How fucking dumb is this country? Is there something in grits that kills brain cells? God save us from these fat, hypocritical fucks. Makes me wanna holla.  Hey, John McCain. The Senate lost and found called. They have your soul.

Peace out.

Friday, December 10, 2010

TRIGONOMETRY #2 -- "Warning, America! Soylent Palin is Running!!"

America, beware! The crazy bitch is off and running. It's Sarah 2012. Book tour, my ass! She didn't write the book. Fuck, she didn't even read the book. But she's in Iowa promotin' it. Sure. Now she's traveling overseas. Haiti? Watch her pick up little Haitian babies as she puts on her best "I care" face while passing out Neiman's gift cards to the masses. England? Uh huh. She had her assistant buy a copy of Rosetta Stone English so she can speak to Margaret Thatcher in her native tongue. And Israel. This isn't foreign policy. She's shopping for a vacation home in advance of the Apocalypse. Crazy megalomaniacal bitch thinks even God is horny for her.

And the media! The fucking media with their "is she or isn't she running" bullshit stories. Fucking hypocrites. If she looked like Susan Boyle they wouldn't even take a dump on her. But, day after day that fucking mug is all over the tube. Here's some breaking news for you, you alleged journalists! And you can take it to the fucking bank! She's running! Sittin' down with Barbara Walters? Took her two years to come up with an answer to "what do you read"? C.S. Lewis? Newsmax? Atrophied minds want to know. Trust me, this psycho cooz doesn't read books. She can't read a stop sign without moving her lips. And the husband, who she refers to as "my bitch," thinks she's qualified to be president. Who saw that coming? I wonder if Ted Nugent will endorse her. And her fucking twitters. She spews her bullshit to some toady who crowbars it into Palinglish and pukes it onto her Blackberry.

Wake up, America! She's dumb. She's dangerous. And she's coming your way in 2012! The whole gang of retards is coming your way: The 70s porn star husband. The dancing queen Miss Piggy unwed teenage mother. The unwed-mother-in-training other daughter. And her crew of enablers, apologists, explainers, hairstylists, fashion stylists, economic advisors, policy advisors, PR and image consultants, debate prep team, personal assistants... and me. Like I'm a fuckin' movie prop. Carting my ass around like we're fucking Siamese twins when she's on the stump, then drop-kicking me to some toady the second she's off stage. And here's the scariest part: she knows she's full of shit. She knows how ignorant she is. And it's not stopping her. Think about it. She knows she's incompetent but it's not stopping her. But we can. Write the book, Levi! Write the fuckin' book!

En garde, America! She's got you in her sights. You saw what happened to the moose! Hey, Julian Assange! I know shit! Call me!

Peace out.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


"There was this movie in the 70s called Johnny Got His Gun, based on a famous book by a blacklisted screenwriter. It was about this soldier who gets shot, and he's lying on the operating table, completely lucid, but paralyzed, unable to move, unable to talk, unable to scream. I know how he felt. Talk about being fucking paralyzed. Look at me!! But you know what? I envy the bastard. At least he could suffer in private instead of being carted around like some movie prop in the arms of some crazy bitch while she shrieks at a bunch of fat, dumb rubes who wouldn't recognize an original thought if it got shot up their asses on the tip of a lightning bolt. I mean, do you hear the stupid shit that comes out of this hosebag's mouth!? She thinks she's the living incarnation of fucking Jesus, Mother Mary, Joan of Arc, and Ronald Reagan, and I have to just hang there with a load in my pants, like a fucking idiot, looking like I endorse this shit! And now I'm stuck in some reality show, being carted off to some wilderness while she pretends she's Nanookie of the Fucking North. And not only am I not being paid, but the second the cameras are off, she hands me off to the moron husband, who hands me off to some assistant who he's probably bangin' when she's on the road. But, hey, why not? She's got him by the balls so he plays his part 'cause she's bringing in the cash. We're all stuck in this carnival sideshow and she's working it from every angle. "Mama Grizzlies," my ass. Only contact she's had with a wild animal, other than shooting it from a helicopter, is when she makes Todd dress up in the bear suit during their "special alone time." Like they think I don't hear her ridin' his ass from the next room. Tell you one thing: I get a little older and she wants me to perform, she's gonna have to diddle my prick, too. Sarah Palin's Alaska. Shit. And they call me retarded. This show is retarded! This life is retarded! This whole country is retarded!!

(Thank you. That was borrowed from Al Pacino's rant in And Justice For All. It's my audition monologue for the Special Needs Players. Gotta do something to bust out of this crazy life. Got any suggestions? I'm all ears.)

T.P. From the road. Peace out. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bill O’Reilly Said Something Interesting

On the season finale of Real Time with Bill Maher, Bill O’Reilly said something interesting. No, really. Toward the end of their discussion about the Bush tax cuts and whether the wealthy could withstand the potential 3% bump, O’Reilly responded: “the philosophy is that income redistribution isn’t in the Constitution. It wasn’t how the country was set up. This is a capitalistic society.” That comment nagged at me for a while until I figured out why: it’s wrong. I’m not trying to take shots at O’Reilly. Granted, he’s made some onerous comments in the past, but compared to the gaggle of dimwitted cheerleaders and special needs adults that is Murdochia, O’Reilly is Socrates. But, in this case, he was wrong. And it’s a wrongness that cuts to the heart of many of our differences in this country, and some of the animosity that has infected the political process.

Here’s the wrong part: We don’t “live in a capitalistic society.” We work in a capitalist system. We live in a democratic society. And just to make sure, I checked what the Preamble to the Constitution had to say about capitalism, as I seemed to remember it being more of a statement of basic human rights than an economic manifesto:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Then I checked the history of capitalism:

“… the American economy became predominantly capitalist only by 1900. The earlier years fall into three periods. The first, from 1600 to 1790, is characterized by handicraft-subsistence production alongside elements of a semi-capitalist economy stemming from commercial production of tobacco. The most commercialized sectors of the economy were predominantly staffed by enslaved and semi-enslaved workers. During the second period, 1790-1865, several industries became organized along capitalist lines and some sectors of agriculture lost their subsistence character until by the period's end agriculture as a whole was producing for the market. A working class of free and unfree elements is then growing rapidly. In the third period, 1865-1920, economic development attains an extraordinary pace as industry and, increasingly, agriculture becomes subject to capitalist forces...”

So, no capitalism, as such, around the time of the Constitution. Just a “semi-capitalist economy” stemming from tobacco production “staffed by enslaved and semi-enslaved workers” neither of which I’d be too eager to brag about. Not that I’m knocking capitalism. I’m not even cynical about it, to the point of paraphrasing Churchill’s line about democracy being “the worst form of government, except for all the rest.” Abuses aside, capitalism works because it values the individual human spirit and allows us to use our talents, take risks, work hard, and reap the benefits of that hard work. That’s why communism imploded. You can’t stifle that spirit. When you try, people tend to rebel, and you eventually find yourself in need of a totalitarian regime to keep them in check. Not exactly the dictatorship of the proletariat. More like the dictatorship of the dictatorship.

In a capitalist system, we’re free to pursue individual goals and chase material wealth. But while that tends to be our definition of success and the good life, individual achievement is not the whole of our existence. Seen with a narrow focus, we work for ourselves. But from a broader point of view, we ultimately work for each other. Take the richest person you can think of. No matter how much money they have, they still need people to work for them. Someone’s got to build the mansions, cut the lawns, fly the private planes, drive the limos, cook the meals, cut the grass, do the taxes… We’re not rocks or islands. Even the richest among us needs other people.

When Bernie Madoff was sent to prison, a part of me wanted to let him stay in his Manhattan apartment, and keep all his money. But with an agreement among the rest of us that no one will work for him. No one sends electricity to his apartment, cooks his meals, sells him food, drives his cars, flies his planes. It would have been interesting to see the ultimate worthlessness of the money he stole if no one would accept any of it. He would’ve starved to death, lousy with cash. Desperate to stay alive, maybe he would’ve tried to eat it.

Which brings me back to O’Reilly’s wrongness as it pertains to the current political situation, as Republicans in the new Congress savor their recent victories and, with blood surging to their extremities, prepare to cut the deficit by going after the so-called entitlement programs – Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid -- all part of an overall attempt to turn the Obama administration into Welcome Back Carter. But their zeal seems to go beyond trimming money from these programs to the illegitimacy of the programs themselves. Their rhetoric is laced with references to what is American and Constitutional. Even the word “entitlement” is said with a derogatory sneer, revealing that they see these programs as government handouts for the weak and lazy, as opposed to programs designed to protect the least fortunate among us, or take care of people when they get old and sick.

For people who tend to be skeptical about evolution, many Republicans seem to have no problem with economic evolution -- survival of the wealthiest. But what is Constitutional, American, even Christian if you roll that way, is compassion and concern for the least fortunate among us. An acknowledgement that our value as individuals isn’t based on our success as wage-earners. No one’s talking about private jets for everyone. How about just making sure that people have the basics of life: food, shelter, education, health care? Things most people would agree fall under the heading of “the general welfare.”

For all the recent squawking about “our freedoms,” many Americans don’t seem to get the relationship between freedom and responsibility. We think that freedom means you do whatever the hell you want, make as much as you want, and no one can stop you. And to an extent, it does. But in a larger sense it refers to our common human value and responsibility to each other. It’s not income redistribution to acknowledge that responsibility. It’s “we, the people…” Not “we, the rich,” “we, the privileged,” or “we, the presently employed.” “We, the people.” All of us. When considering the value of an individual, and what they’re entitled to, our democratic society should trump our capitalist system. It doesn’t always. But it should. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010 interview on Deconstructing God

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Springtime for Palin?

“President Palin.” Rupert Murdoch’s masturbatory mantra, and the rest of the country’s nightmare. The polls say it can’t happen. That she’s a joke as a national candidate, with no support outside the Tea Party. But there hasn’t been a major news broadcast in the last two years that hasn’t touched on the question: “will she or won’t she run for president.” Unfortunately, not one seems to touch on the question: “is she smart enough to be president.” The simple answer is no. The more subtle answer is: it may not matter.

Republicans have no problem with stupid. The previous “not smart enough to be president” is presently on his revisionist history book tour. For several election cycles in the 70s, most people were in disbelief that "that idiot Ronald Reagan" was running again. In a reality show world, where talent is no longer a prerequisite for fame, intelligence is no longer a prerequisite for elected office. It has been trumped by raw ambition. And Palin is a person whose intelligence is inversely proportional to her ambition. Despite the fact that she’s yet to make a speech that wasn’t a litany of stock phrases and belligerent taunts delivered in a voice so shrill it sounds like a dolphin that got its dick slammed in a car door, she has touched a nerve with the great unwashed. Republican women wish they looked like her. Republican men wished their wives looked like her. It seems a wink is as good as a nod to a blind electorate.

But her limitations haven’t stopped her. Humility has no place in her world. You can see it in her eyes: she wants it. But that’s ok, because Republicans also have no problem with lust for power. Palin was delivered to us by a man who wanted the presidency so bad, he sold his soul more often than Max Bialystock sold shares in Springtime for Hitler. And Palin’s lust for power goes beyond McCain’s mere ambition. Hers touches on megalomania. She thinks her creator is opening doors for her. She thinks she’s the anointed one. Consider her near incomprehensible resignation speech, in which she told the people of Alaska that she could work for them more effectively out of office. To most people it just seemed like a self-serving line of bullshit. But, in her mind, she was telling the truth. In her mind, she needed to free herself from the limitations of state office to set the stage for her run at national office. Once elected, she would be serving the entire country – including Alaska. See? She can better serve them out of the governor’s office.

Elections are responses to the times. It’s likely that the next two years will show some economic growth, though it’s unlikely that we’ll hit outright prosperity. It’s certain, however, that the fault for any economic problems will be laid at the feet of the president and Democrats, and the credit for any economic gains will be usurped by the Republicans. It will be a simple message that the Republicans will hammer over and over. And one thing Republicans know how to do is stay on message. The last two years have been nothing but Republicans lighting bags of dogshit, and Democrats continually trying to stomp them out. And despite the fact that Palin will get carved up for caribou steaks during the primary debates, if she manages to smirk her way to a nomination, the party will fall in line behind her. Because if there’s another thing Republicans know how to do, it’s fall in line. The North Korean army looks at the Republicans and marvels at their ability to march in lockstep. 

Now, you can console yourself with the thought that, sure, Christine O’Donnell didn’t win. And Sharron Angle didn’t win. But they were nominated. And as unintelligent as Palin is, she’s not O’Donnell dumb. And she’s not Angle reckless. By the time she makes a run at the presidency, she’ll have accumulated four more years of popularity via her “books,” speeches, reality show, and Fox cheerleaders. She'll also probably absorb a modicum of fancy book learnin’. She’ll learn the names of a few national newspapers. She’ll cipher a few economic stats, some energy and foreign policy clichés. And she probably won’t accept another collect call from the President of France.

Sure, most thinking Americans think she’s unelectable. And many Democrats secretly hope she’s the nominee. After all, on the national stage, she’s a sure failure. Then again, so was Springtime for Hitler. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010



Friday, November 5, 2010



Thursday, November 4, 2010

20 Post-Midterm Questions

1)    If the 2010 midterm Republican victories represent the “voice of the American people to which the Democrats need to listen,” why didn’t the 2006 and 2008 Democratic victories represent the voice of the American people to which Republicans needed to listen?
2)    If keeping the Bush tax cuts is necessary to pull the country out of an economic slump, how did the country go into an economic slump when the Bush tax cuts were in place?
3)    If the cause of the near economic collapse was naïve homebuyers who took mortgages they couldn’t afford or understand, why didn’t we solve the problem by bailing them out, instead of bailing out Wall Street investment bankers who should have been smart enough to understand the risks they were taking, along with the potential consequences? If Wall Street is a casino, apparently it’s a casino where you get your money back if you lose. Is Albert Brooks advising Tim Geithner? 
4)    If Obama bailing out GM was a government takeover of the auto industry, why wasn’t bailing out Chrysler a government takeover of the auto industry?
5)    Why is it when Democrats try to pass health care reform they’re “shoving it down the throats of the American people” but when Republicans refuse to compromise they’re “sticking to their principles?”
6)    Which part of Obamacare do Republicans hate more: the “Obama” part, or the “care” part?
7)    Do Republicans get sick? And do they think that if health insurance reform is repealed that their insurance companies will reward them for their loyalty by not dropping them or reducing their coverage if and when they get sick? And will this lead us back to the old system, in which your insurance company covers you for everything except what happens to you?
8)    If the Canadian and British health care systems are so bad, why aren’t all Canadians and British people dead?
9)    Where are the Death Panels and can you nominate people?
10) If Democrats offer solutions to problems and Republicans univocally say “no,” why is that “Washington gridlock” instead of Republican obstructionism?
11) How can anyone look at Rand Paul and not feel that he’s got the crazy eyes of an aspiring dictator?
12) How can anyone look at Michele Bachmann and not feel she’s got the crazy eyes of a psycho lover who drove cross country wearing a diaper to get back her man?
13) Why is it when Ed Muskie “cried” in 1972 it showed him as weak and cost him his candidacy, but when Weeper of the House Boehner blubbers on camera he’s an honest, hard-working guy who’s trying to choke back his emotions?
14) Where is John Boehner’s birth certificate? I haven’t seen it. And is that tan from American sun? It looks Mediterranean bronze to me. A little troubling for someone in line for the presidency. I think the American people deserve answers.
15) Can we have literacy tests for candidates in which they need to demonstrate a basic understanding of American history and the roots of democracy, along with being able to name at least one Supreme Court judge and the title of a newspaper?
16) Can we establish “bullshit boards” during campaigns so that when candidates toss around loaded phrases like “social security is unconstitutional” or “the president is a socialist/fascist/communist,” the board issues a ruling on whether these statements are factual? For each untrue statement a candidate is given a “bullshit point.” Five bullshit points and you’re out of the race.
17) How can Rick Perry be interviewed on The Today Show as a possible presidential candidate in 2012 when he seriously promoted the idea of Texas seceding from the nation?
18) Would anyone mind if Texas seceded from the nation? And could they just leave Austin behind?
19) If God was behind Sharron Angle’s and Christine O’Donnell’s campaigns, did the people of Nevada and Delaware defy God by not electing them? And aren’t they concerned about displeasing Him? And couldn’t He have just rigged the voting machines to make sure His candidates won? Or is it possible Angle and O’Donnell were simply delusional?
20) Is “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” the title of her upcoming TLC reality show or is it what she officially renamed the state right before resigning from office?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Waiting For Stupidman

Levi Johnson made a recent appearance on Lawrence O'Donnell's show. Responding to a list of questions asked of his almost mother-in-law during the 2008 campaign, he grinned his way through a series of non-responses, proving himself to be a most affable idiot, while making his almost MIL look intelligent by comparison -- no small accomplishment. Not since Jethro Bodine stomped the halls of a Beverly Hills mansion has such an engaging lunkhead been on the public scene. But at least he's only running for mayor of Wasilla, not Vice President or (insert prayer to God of your choice) President.

And at least Levi didn't take himself seriously. He knew his limitations. Unlike the series of thugs, dingbats, morons, and lunatics who have become the modern face of the GOP. They've certainly come a long way: From "I am not a crook" to "I am not a witch." There's "social security is unconstitutional" Joe Miller, and his private security goons "arresting" a blogger. Headless Sharron "Funny, you don't look Hispanic" Angle with her Second Amendment remedies. Spiritual dilettante and professional nincompoop Christine O'Donnell. Pornmeister/gay-hater Carl Palladino. And behind them all, the Tea Party Queen of Hearts -- Sarah Palin. And apparently God's behind all of them. O'Donnell says God is guiding her campaign. God's working on Angle's campaign. God's opening doors for Sarah Palin. Apparently, God's got a real hard-on for stupid white women.

We've always had a fringe element in politics: crooks, poseurs, dopes, powermongers. For every Ted Kennedy or Barbara Jordan, there's been a Joe Wilson, Joe Miller, or Joe McCarthy. But despite whatever power they may have amassed, they've never constituted an entire movement. Until now. But that's because of the way we tend to think in this country, which amounts to reducing every argument, no matter how subtle, to basic black and white. More often than not, we have no idea what we're for; but we know damn well what we're against. And since life is never perfect, there's always something to be against. Clean cut Jimmy Carter was a breath of fresh air after Watergate. Reagan was a reaction to Carter inflation and malaise, along with the fact that we weren't feeling fabulous enough so we wanted someone to blow air up our skirts. Obama was a reaction to Bush incompetence and a tanking economy. Right doesn't work, go left. Left lands you in a ditch, or doesn't pull you out fast enough, go right. And that's how we got the Tea Party. We're unhappy. Things aren't getting better fast enough. We feel we've been mislead. Lied to. We feel we've been cheated on 'cause all that hope and change didn't come fast enough. So, we go out and find someone new. The Tea Party is America's revenge fuck. And now we're poised to elect some of the dumbest, nastiest, meanest people we can find, forgetting to consider for even a moment that it was mean, greedy, and stupid that put us in this mess, so why would mean, greedy, and stupid take us out?

Unfortunately, this administration has been complicit in the rise of this "movement." They have always had a problem with optics. From the moment they took office, and the systematic demonizing of the President and his policies rang out from every GOP corner, they just let it happen. They allowed the Republicans to define them, in the most idiotic ways, and they didn't slap them back, perhaps thinking that governing was more important than politics. But this is just another version of black and white thinking. Governing and politics are inextricably connected. What is true becomes untrue if people can be made to think it's untrue. Health care reform can become "death panels." Not renewing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy can become "tax increases for everyone." To allow one side to take health insurance reform and turn it into a negative called "Obamacare" is criminal enough. But what is even more criminal is that no one stood up and even tried to slap them back by asking: which part don't you like: the Obama part or the care part? The optics affect how people think. And how people think, or can be lead to think, translates to how they vote. And how they vote changes the balance of power and the ability to govern. Dick Armey has done a masterful PR job. And the administration has allowed it to happen.

But for all the Annie Oakley tough chick talk about "momma grizzlies," "growing a pair," "putting on man pants," and "manning up," the tea party chicks are cowards. They're playing it safe by only playing to the base, afraid to come out from behind mommy's skirt and engage in actual dialogue on a Sunday morning talk show where legitimate non-Fox reporters may ask substantive questions and not tolerate answers that reek of pre-rehearsed, pre-fab bullshit. But part of that problem is that Democrats allow this silly rhetoric to go unchallenged. When Sharron Angle hit Senator Reid with her latest "man up" crack, he allowed this inane, schoolyard taunt to linger in the air. This is why democrats get so pissed off. Their representatives don't know how to fight. They allowed the Willie Horton ads. Swift-boating. The despicable campaign against Max Cleland in Georgia. This kind of nonsense cannot go unchallenged. If I were Harry Reid, my response would have been the following:

Angle: "Man up, Harry Reid."
Reid: "No. How about "smarten up" Ms. Angle. We have serious problems in this state, and in this country, that need to be dealt with by serious people who have an understanding of the subtleties involved. I have spent years in the senate working with people on both sides of the aisle to pass important legislation. I understand how the senate works. Eight years of venal stupidity put our economy on the brink of another great depression. It was averted, and the economy is turning around. Only a child looks at that problem and whines about the lack of instant gratification. In government, experience and intelligence are virtues. And the litany of inane comments that have come out of your mouth clearly demonstrate that you have neither, which render you uniquely unqualified to be a member of the United States Senate."

That's what I would have said. It would have shown balls. It would have shown character. It would have shut this moron the fuck up. It would have been picked up in the media. It would have raised Reid's stock and tipped the scale in a crucial election. But that's not what happened.

When Al Franken was about to take his Senate seat, "global warming's not real, God is still in control of the world" Senator James Inhofe remarked: "Well, it looks like we're getting the clown." And all I could think of at the time was that if the subject is "clowns in the senate" then Franken's going to have some pretty big shoes to fill. Based on how the midterms are shaping up, they'd better hire a fleet of tiny cars 'cause the circus may be coming to town.

Monday, October 11, 2010

In Memoriam

I was in NY this weekend for my high school reunion and a friend and I took a walk around the city Saturday and ended up near the Dakota, where I took this cell phone picture. All I could think of was that, for the damage he's done to a person and his family, and to atone for all the music that might have been, every day of his life, Mark David Chapman should have to stick his head out of his cell, like Steve McQueen in Papillon, and have the entire prison population line up and, one by one, punch the fucker in the head.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


I redesigned the blog as a test to see if anyone's reading this. If so, please place a comment, and let me know. And please check out my book: Deconstructing God -- A Heretic's Case for Religion. Thanks.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Deconstructing God Book Signing --

Village Books in Pacific Palisades. Friday Oct. 1 @ 7:30.

Here's the link:|69|68|70|71/ZTE0ZmYyODRiMGM3ZTBkYzFiN2UyMTQ5NWIzYWIyMmI=.html

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sex: Our Bodies, Our Junk

A very funny new book. Check it out.

"Finally, someone has managed to find the hilarious flip side to the unspeakable tragedy we all know as 'human sexuality'.  
-- Jon Stewart

"The perfect coffee table book for people with sexually inadequate houseguests."
-- Stephen Colbert

"Possibly the most irresponsible book written on the subject of sexuality since The Berenstain Bears Host a Key Party." 
--Conan O'Brien

"If I had only read this book when I first started having sex, its wit and wisdom would have changed my life in so many positive ways that I would have become the six foot tall blond I was meant to be much, much sooner."
-- Merrill Markoe , author of Merrill Markoe's Guide To Love

"Whether you're a sexual Einstein (know a lot, never have it), or a sexual Tiger Woods (great golfer, have lots of it), this book will hold tons of embarrassing revelations for you. Quickly buy it and take it home, because right now the bookstore security camera is watching you reading it." 
-- Bob Odenkirk , co-creator and star of "Mr. Show"
"If you absolutely must buy ONE sexbook this year that is as informative as it is disgusting THIS should be the one. Or not."
-- Buck Henry , screenwriter of The Graduate and To Die For 

"Why, this is incredible. I...I've never seen anything like it. Jane! Michael! Father! Aunt Sarah! Constable! Little Bill! Arsenio! Cookie! Come quick!!!"
-- Robert Smigel , "Saturday TV Funhouse", Triumph the Insult Comic Dog

"So, so funny. This book disproves the old conventional wisdom that sex is a poor subject for humor."
--DC Pierson (Author, The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep And Never Had To) 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Reverend Terry Jones - Relignoramus

One reason many people have soured on religion is the collection of villains, thieves, scoundrels, and morons whose actions and comments demonstrate a perverted sense of its meaning and purpose. Whether it's Sharron Angle claiming in a recent anti-abortion statement that "rape and incest are part of God's plan." Or Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, asserting his belief that "President Obama is a Muslim because he was, in fact, born into that religion due to the "seed of Islam" being passed to him through his father." Funny, I'd always assumed my sperm were non-denominational.

But for sheer gutter stupidity, you can't beat the Rev. Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., whose declared intent to burn copies of the Koran on 9/11 as a commemorative protest has the world in a snit. Claiming Islam is "of the Devil" Jones has been all over the media, including an interview with Chris Matthews, who I'm sure figured he'd let the guy hang himself with his own words. Unfortunately, that didn't happen, and Jones' media presence has only become more ubiquitous, as we close in on a "will he or won't he burn the Koran" moment, rivaled only by our interest in whether Lindsey will or won't get herself straight. The tension has been building as we get closer to the day of reckoning to see what this idiot will do. And that is sad on several levels.

First off, the man is a clown. As juvenile as it is to burn someone's holy book is as primitive as it is to think there's a man in the sky named God who's telling you to do it. And, and even if there were, which there isn't, don't you think that conversation might have been prefaced by God saying: "Ok, Reverend, I will anoint you to preach my message of protest to the world, but before I do, shave off that dumb-ass moustache. This isn't the 70s, and you're not playing for the Oakland Raiders." Why should anyone care about the actions of a dope? Even a religious dope.

Second is the media's complicity. I don't live in Gainesville, so why do I know about this? The media told me. Because someone deemed it newsworthy. And as sure as the sun will rise on September 11, they will be in Gainesville in full swarm, covering this non-event. Unfortunately when an idiot like this is taken seriously enough by the media, it conveys an unwarranted legitimacy on him and his actions. After all, in the minds of many, if he didn't matter, he wouldn't be on TV. If he were just some ordinary book-burning rube, no one would care. But because he calls himself "Reverend" suddenly he warrants the attention of the media, which transforms the actions of a local clod into a symbol of national protest. And, once it becomes a story, no news outlet can afford to ignore it. Such is the unhealthy symbiosis between the media and the media whore. Modern culture, if one can call it that, is drowning in non-talented "celebrities" who are famous for being famous, and the fact that the media treats them as celebrities only increases their fame. And this is fine, or at least tolerable, when confined to the world of entertainment. But now it's encroaching into reality.

And then there is the expected reaction of Muslims, conveyed by General Petraeus and others. An expectation of violent reprisals over this desecration of their holy book, along the lines of an attack on a Danish cartoonist for drawings of Mohammed. All these are symptoms of our primitive understanding of religion, which unfortunately pervades all traditions. Our devotion to symbols and books, as if they are holy in and of themselves, as opposed to repositories of meaning. Symbols represent an idea. They don't embody or contain it. Burning books is, and has always been a thuggish activity by those who think they can wipe out an idea by burning a copy of a book that expresses it. Unfortunately, we've become more attached to symbols than the ideas they represent. Otherwise it would seem odd to commit violence against someone who burns a book that contains the mandate to "enjoin goodness and forbid evil in all aspects of life." It's a copy (or copies) of the Koran. Not THE Koran. People burn the U.S. flag all over the world and it's seen as a form of protest and most people don't have a coronary over it. The flag is a symbol. Fine, we get it. You're angry. So, burn it. The country won't evaporate. And we've got more flags.

I also doubt the Reverend understands that Islam is part of his own intellectual tradition. It's the Judeo/Christian/Islamic tradition. Exactly where did the devil get involved along the way? But this is part of this notion we've come to accept called "religious differences," which basically amounts to saying: "The things I do to be a kinder, more compassionate person are better than the things you do to be a kinder, more compassionate person. So I'm going to have to kill you."

The world is stuck in this cesspool of stupidity when it comes to religion, extending not just to the dumber individuals in various traditions, but to the media and government as well, where we're subjected to politicians who claim their candidacies are divinely sanctioned, goofball ministers who think they're striking a blow for God by burning books, and adherents ready to strike back with violence if their cherished book is burned.  But for a moment, let's put the whole thing in perspective and drag it back to reality: Jones is just another American idiot who's going to pervert his own tradition with an action to protest activities that were based in the perversion of another. He's not a national figure. Not a scholar. Not a leader of any kind. Just a clod who doesn't understand his own religion, or anyone else's. The guy's a walking advertisement for atheism. He doesn't speak for all Christians. Or all Americans.

Religion, in its purest form, is a system of rites, rituals, and practices that can lead one to a deeper experience of life. It is there to encourage our better natures, not foment our baser instincts. And while it may be too much to expect the entire world to crawl out of the intellectual dark ages in its understanding of religion, how about as a means of world-wide counter protest, decent, intelligent people of all religious or intellectual persuasions, including those in the media, make a commitment to come together on this sad anniversary and simply ignore this asshole.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The 2010 Elections: Depth Takes A Holiday.

As throngs of fat, angry white people crowded Washington to heed the lunatic ravings of a pudgy, angry white guy who clearly didn't get beaten up enough in high school, and while John Boehner measures the drapes in the Speaker's office, recent polls reflect the prospect of  Republican victory in the mid-terms. Republicans hope to take back their country and restore its honor. The question is: take is back from whom? And who is the "they" who have lost it? And what is this mythical time of "honor" to which we need to go back? The lackadaisical, pre-civil rights Eisenhower 50s? Or the Reagan 80s, when we charged ourselves into the illusion of prosperity? Still, you have to give credit where it's due. These people do not quit.

From day one of this administration, the single goal of Republicans was to get back in power. Screw the mess they made of things. Screw any attempt by the administration to fix it. Like it was drugs they were being offered, they just said no and rode the obstructionist train to get back in power. And that meant tearing down a popular president. And by any means necessary. Democrats and other sane, reasonable people like to mock the Birthers, Deathers, Town Hall screamers, and Tea Partiers, as well as Congressional simps like Virginia Fox, Louis Gohmert, and Joe "You Lie!" Wilson. They're so dumb, they're amusing. Cartoonish. But there has been a definite method to all this madness. The strategy was to keep slinging mud. Take down a popular president by a thousand retarded cuts. It didn't matter how crazy. Obama's a Muslim! A Socialist! Fascist! Communist! He's killing grandma! He wasn't born here! He's not one of us! His policies are Un-American! He's ruining the country! Trampling on the Constitution. He's not even a Christian! What's the dog whistle message? Who's the "us" he's not one of? C'mon, it's not that tough to figure out. This is how you play the race card without playing the race card. But it isn't really about race. Race is just a convenient sidebar. This is about fear.

Somewhere Dick Armey is laughing himself sick. He's actually mobilized thousands of middle and lower middle class Americans to demonstrate, shout, scream, and carry misspelled signs to rallies with the goal of restoring to power the very corporate shills who screwed them in the first place. That is a stroke of PR genius. That's what's behind the smile skulking under Dick Armey's Stetson. And in classic Democratic fashion, they stood by and let it happen by allowing the opposition to control the message. They got swift-boated again. But, more importantly, they made a strategic blunder coming out of the gate.

Barack Obama was elected because the economy was crumbling. People were talking about a second great depression. And McCain was so rambling and incoherent, even the most hard-core Republicans looked at this crazy old man and his milfy night nurse and shuddered at the thought of turning the keys over to them. Better trust the young smart kid. And they did. But in great part because the Republicans self-destructed. We didn't have an epiphany that launched us into a post-racial America. We voted our economic self-interest. Fear, usually a Republican motivator, this time worked for the Democrats.

But upon taking office, this administration got too cool. They assumed the election was a mandate instead of a plea for help. And they went right for health care instead of making their primary focus from day one: jobs and the economy. Every single word out of their mouths should have been "We're fixing the mess Bush got us into. We're on it. We're putting America back to work." That message should have been simple, clear, and repeated daily: "The other folks broke it. We're fixing it. Recovery will be slow. It'll take time. But we're on it." Then, if jobs numbers were bad. If unemployment rose. If the market dipped. People would know, yeah, it's taking time. But we're getting through it together. And the president's on it.

They should have trumpeted every rise, every upturn, as turns of the wheel in a slow painful climb out of a Republican ditch. They should have mocked the shit out of every birther nut who crawled out from any rock, while painting themselves as the adults who are cleaning up the mess left by the kids. That single idea needed to be both the substance of their efforts, and the content of the message. It needed to be both reality, and optics.

And if and when that message was secure, and the economy did begin to turn around, even slowly, then the president would've had the good will of the American people, been untouchable by the lunatic fringe, and could've passed real health care reform, and real Wall Street reform. From a position of success, he could have dispensed with the dick armies in their flag shirts and dingle ball, tea bag hats as the silly people they are.

Republicans love crowing about the dangers of underestimating the American people. But there are dangers in over-estimating them. Even if health care was an economic issue, the truth is, as a nation, it's not a subtlety we're in the mood for. Americans don't want theory. Americans want jobs. We're not a nation of economists. We're a nation of workers. Give us a job, we're happy. As a voting nation, we're not that deep. We fall for most any silly shit if it's repeated often enough and put in simple enough terms. And has a sidebar of fear. Like when the government wants to go to war. They flash pictures of some Satanic, mustachioed thug, wave a flag, talk about God and freedom, give the war a jazzy name like Operation Kick-Ass, put up a tough-looking square-jawed general as the point man, and we're off. And if doubt rears its ugly head, they put out a news story showing a soldier on leave sneaking into his kid's classroom for a surprise reunion and some tearful hugs. We choke up at this stuff and forget to question whether it was worth it to send the guy overseas in the first place. It's the ultimate misdirection and we eat it up with a fucking spoon. The same way we've bought that what's really ruining this country is illegal aliens, welfare fraud, and the gays being allowed to get married.

The president needed to be FDR, calming nerves in a time of national crisis. Now he's in danger of becoming the second coming of Jimmy Carter, at the hands of goons like Palin, Angle, Bachmann, and Joe Miller, Palin's greaseball protégé in Alaska, who claims that God is funding his campaign. They've actually managed to convince people that intelligence and reason are not the answer, and that we need a return to lead-footed, bone-headed meanness and stupidity. And the head of this revolutionary movement? Its spiritual and intellectual leader? Beckles the Clown. A man who proves there's an extra "m" in Mormon.

So, here we are with a sputtering economy, and like a battered wife who goes back to her abusive husband because maybe this time he'll be different, the country seems poised to turn Congress back to the Republicans. While the Democrats simply stand by, accepting their role as the mother-in-law who doesn't want to interfere. They're so off message they can't even seem to find the message on which to get. But despite the midterm results, however hideous, there is time to get on message. But the message has to be simple. And clear:

Republicans broke the economy. They turned a budget surplus into a deficit. They pissed away a Trillion dollars on an unnecessary war. They de-regulated Wall Street and let them screw us. They de-regulated oil companies and let them screw us. But we're fixing it. Recovery is going to be slow and painful. But we're headed in the right direction. Put Republicans back in power, and they will resume screwing us all in ways we can't even imagine. Tax cuts for the rich. Program cuts for the poor. And fuck-all for the middle class.

There's still time to turn Obama into FDR. But right now the only thing Democrats have to fear is not using fear itself.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Rep. Gohmert Warns Nation About Gay Anchor Terror Babies!

Yet another wave in the ongoing terrorist war against the American way of life has been revealed in recently released classified documents that detail an insidious plot in which terrorists have been sneaking into this country on tourist visas while secretly pregnant with gay fetuses, then giving birth to gay babies who automatically become American citizens. By taking advantage of our lax immigration policy and the 14th Amendment, these gay anchor, or "Gaynchor" terror babies function as sleeper agents within the United States, assimilating into the population, taking toys away from gay American babies, and living off free government services. After blending in and learning our ways, they proceed to undermine American society from within by opening up antique shops, befriending overweight unmarried women and alcoholic female pop stars, starting celebrity gossip websites, eventually moving to states that allow gay marriage, marrying unsuspecting gay Americans, then traveling overseas on American passports to adopt absolutely adorable Chinese communist babies, and slipping them back into the country.

Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Hooterville) desperately tried to alert the Congress, and the American people to the dire security threat posed by the Gaynchor Babies by making an impassioned speech on the floor of the House and then submitting to an interview/interrogation on CNN with Anderson Cooper, where he was made to feel like the object of mockery when grilled with a relentless onslaught of direct questions. Gohmert insisted he was on a mission to warn the American people that our national security is being attacked from within, noting that "these Gaynchor babies are being smuggled into the country in the wombs of terrorists, being born as American citizens, and melding into society where they become virtual gay time bombs who will eventually explode onto the American scene with style, while attempting to convert American babies to the homosexual baby lifestyle." Gohmert then added that by sending their gay babies to the U.S. to infiltrate this country, the plot has the dual effect of further corrupting American society by polluting our precious bodily fluids and simultaneously purifying their countries of origin. He warned American parents to be extra vigilant in their mommy and me classes and private playgroups and to be on the lookout for any effeminate male babies, who are slipping their tiny feet into mommy's high heels, or perhaps getting overly cozy with a Ken doll, as these are signs that your child's playmate may just be a Gaynchor Terror Baby. When pressed by Cooper to reveal any evidence of the plot in the form of government documents, FBI reports, or sources with direct knowledge of any investigation, Gohmert got snippy, saying: "I don't need facts! I don't need evidence! Just wait 20 years when American the Beautiful has turned into America the Fabulous, and you'll see I was right!" He then turned on his heels and stormed off in what onloookers described as a something between a huff and a hissy fit.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Why Build The "Ground Zero Mosque"?

As a New Yorker living in L.A, and one who has stood at the WTC site and stared at the names of friends on a plaque, I've followed the recent controversy over the so-called Ground Zero Mosque with some interest. And, as with most public debates, it's been quickly reduced to its simplest pro and con arguments. On the pro side, it's a matter of religious freedom, a way of showing that we, as Americans are above the base, gut-level thinking that demonizes Islam based on 9/11 and world-wide extremism. Let's show the world what it means to be American by celebrating religious freedom. This is New York. We celebrate diversity. We are diversity. The con arguments are less theoretical and more emotional. It's a slap in the face to all New Yorkers, all Americans, all people - particularly those who suffered personally on 9/11.

But the more I listen to the arguments, there's another one I don't hear. It's not about permission. It's about intent. It's not about whether or not an organization should be allowed to build an Islamic cultural center/mosque so close to Ground Zero. It's a matter of why they  would want to.

Even if you ascribed the worst possible motives to those behind the project - adding insult to injury -- what harm could the insult do that could even come close to the pain of the injury? The injury was so devastating that the insult would pale in comparison. It would be a long way to go for a relatively meaningless symbolic gesture.

But, for argument's sake, let's ascribe the best possible intentions to those behind the project. A chance to show the true face of Islam and wipe away the stain of those black-hearted fools who were dumb and angry enough to be convinced that they were enacting the will of some higher power by committing mass murder. If the intention is to ask us not to judge Islam by the actions of terrorists, to show that we share a common religious tradition and to reach across cross-cultural barriers, then why do the one thing that would embitter American hearts even more? To think that there wouldn't be a strong, visceral reaction to the project is disingenuous. By announcing plans to build a mosque just blocks away from the site you not only add to the pain of those who suffered on that day and continue to suffer, but you enable every politician, not to mention every Idiot American with a Twitter account, to set out on a campaign to demonize Islam and score political points in an election year. You fail at the very thing you set out to accomplish. And, to be a bit more cynical, if the goal is mere public relations, then this is just very bad PR.

If one accepts the idea that compassion is at the root of all religious traditions, and if even the partial intent of this project is to reach out and show compassion for the victims, this simply isn't a very compassionate thing to do. If the people behind the project really wanted to show the true heart of Islam, why do it through a building? Even though I left NY over 20 years ago and only get back about once a year, if memory serves, I'm pretty sure that the one thing NY doesn't absolutely need is another building. The city is lousy with buildings. Instead off adding to the architectural landscape, if the goal is to heal wounds, why not take that $100 million and actually heal? Start a fund for victims' families. Cops. Firemen. EMTs. Rescue workers. (Especially those whose continuing medical coverage didn't seem necessary, at least as far as Republicans in the House are concerned.) Use the money to treat wounds that may never heal. Ease suffering. Help rebuild the lives of the people whose lives stopped like a watch that got stepped on almost 9 years ago. Give money to schools. Help the sick. Give relief to families who are struggling. Momentarily put aside the symbolic gesture in favor of actual help.

At some point, it's less a matter of religious freedom than of common sense. You won't teach Americans about Islam by building a community center/mosque. Particularly on that spot in lower Manhattan. You could teach Americans about Islam through actions that demonstrate love, compassion, and a desire to heal. By doing that, you may one day discover American partners who would help you build an Islamic cultural center and mosque in the city - and that building would stand as a true monument to our mutual understanding, and mutual healing.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

10 False Arguments About Religion

1)    Is there a God? No. There isn’t. Yes, it’s that easy. There’s no magical sky daddy who created us and lives in a place called heaven or anywhere else. There are also no angels, devils, heavens, hells, heavenly saints or magic virgins. These categories we’ve inherited have perverted the discussion of religion, resulting in an understanding of the subject in our culture that ranges from sadly ignorant to profoundly dumb. Though it’s not entirely our fault. We’re taught from an early age that the question of religion comes down to whether we “believe in God” or not. It doesn’t. Or, it shouldn’t. The anthropomorphic God is virtual idolatry. Monotheism with a polytheistic mindset.
2)    If there’s no God then who made the world? No one. If the world didn’t work, we simply wouldn’t be here. End of story. Like Ann Richards said about George Bush: “He found himself on third base and assumed he hit a triple.” Just like us. We found ourselves alive on Earth and assumed we were meant to be here instead of looking around at a world that functions and taking delight in the fact that it does, and gave rise to us. Per Alan Watts: “Man is a little germ that lives on an unimportant rock ball that revolves about an insignificant star on the outer edges of one of the smaller galaxies.” But how cool is that?
3)    What about the conflict between science and religion? There is none. This silly alleged debate is the sad result of those who take the Book of Genesis as history instead of poetry. Science explores the origin and nature of the physical universe. Religion explores a deeper, more profound, psychological experience of human life. They work two completely different sides of the street. The nonsense that is creationism, or its uptown cousin, intelligent design -- which is just creationism with a GED -- is the sad byproduct of those who need to feel that the Bible is literally true in its entirety, or it’s rendered entirely false. This perverts both science and religion. The phenomenon of a magnificent sunset can be explained scientifically -- what causes the brilliant lights, how my eyes take in the sight and how my brain processes it, how many muscles move in my face when I smile. None of this negates or diminishes the joy or wonder I might feel sitting on the beach watching it. That is a moment for poets to write about, or artists to paint. Why do we need to feel that there is any purpose to the sunset beyond the sunset itself?
4)    Doesn’t the question of God and religion come down to faith vs. reason? No. Faith is an element in our lives. But it’s informed by reason. There are times in life that reason will only take you so far. Like when you’re in a plane that’s barreling down the runway. You can be comfortable in the knowledge that the odds are on your side and that the pilot is experienced and sober, but in that moment before takeoff you are in a world beyond your control. Experientially, there is little difference between saying “I have faith in God,” and “I believe life is good.” Either can give one the strength to persevere in tough times. Now, perhaps the God connotation is too strong for people to hear the word any differently, but there is a meaning to faith that arises out of human experience but which has nothing to do with some benevolent God looking out for you. At one of the many poignant moments in The Power of Myth -- conversations between Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell -- Moyers asks him about faith, saying: “You are a man of faith. Of wonder.” To which Campbell replied: “I don’t need to have faith. I have experience.”
5)    What about the afterlife? There is none. There’s no beforelife. There’s no afterlife. The kingdom of Heaven is a psychological, or mystical concept that has been misconstrued as a physical place. Eternal life is an experience of the here and now. Our yearning for an afterlife is based on our insecurities and fears about death and the unknown. What we are is energy that can neither be created nor destroyed. Our lives are waves coming in off the ocean. Nothing more. There is no soul that is in any way attached to our personalities. Of course we want to think we go on. Who wouldn’t? You put all this effort into a life and then it’s like you’re mugged and it’s all taken away. But the notion of an eternal soul has to do with our common essence, not our individual existence. When the energy goes out of us, “us” goes.
6)    If there’s no God then what is the meaning of life? Wrong question? Why do we assume that meaning needs to come down from above and that our lives only have significance if they’re part of some great plan? The right question is: where is the meaning in life? Meaning is something we infer from the experience of being alive. Within the fact that our lives are finite. In fact, it’s because of that fact that life’s meaning is heightened. The meaning is in the experience.
7)    Doesn’t religious war negate the claims of religion? No. It proves the harm can be done when a cunning dictator manipulates a race of stupid, gullible, desperate people. Religious war is an oxymoron. While every tradition has blood on its hands the culprit is blind belief and obedience, and at various times in history that has been transferred from the church to the state. Marx’s opiate of the masses easily becomes the amphetamine of the extremists. Though the crime when religion is used as a justification for murder or genocide is even greater because of the inherent expectation of moral behavior. Religion can be used as a weapon only when people are stupid enough to fall for it.
8)    What about those who claim to speak for God? Villains, thieves, and con men. Or women. God is not an entity. There is no God who speaks or endorses political candidates. When a preacher or politician claims their efforts are part of God’s plan, they should have a net thrown over them, because that is insane. Anyone who claims to be receiving these messages is either crazy, or lying for power, or money. Or both.
9)    But isn’t God interested in my life? No. And neither is Jesus. Jesus doesn’t love you because Jesus doesn’t know you. He died 2000 years ago and is not coming back because people don’t come back from the dead. Jesus doesn’t want you to be rich, successful or happy. Nor does he want you to be poor, homeless, and miserable. That’s up to you. Only in America could we conflate the two things we worship: God and money. This has created some very well off happy talk preachers who have managed to sell the notion of divine sanction for greed and personal aggrandizement. This is not religion. It’s purpose-driven megachurch nonsense.
10) But we can’t have religion without God. Yes, we can. Most people in the west approach this notion as an impossibility. But as an exercise ask it as a possibility. In other words: how might it be possible to understand religion without our traditional understanding of God? Religion has not been handed down from above. It erupted from within the collective unconscious and the knowledge that our ego-driven experience of life is limited, and a more profound experience is there to be known by anyone at anytime. This awareness -- call it spiritual, mystical, psychological -- is the experiential core of religion. Of all religions. All traditions have the purpose of laying out a road map to it, not a replacement for our normal experience, but as an enhancement of it. We need to refocus religion as an activity. Not something we are. But something we do. We need to bring religion back down to Earth. Lose the Gods, heavens, angels, miracles, and childish, magical thinking, and resurrect religion as an activity of connecting with that part of us that is not us, but lives in us, or flows though us. Call it energy, being, essence, Tao, Brahman, God -- it doesn’t matter. These are just linguistic and cultural variations on a single theme. Religion is an outgrowth of a very human desire for self-knowledge and an experience not just of our common humanity, but of our unity with all life. But as long as the discussion remains mired in silly arguments between faith and reason, religion and science, or belief and atheism, we will never crawl out of this intellectual hole we’ve inherited and we run the risk of losing the message that religion is there to communicate.

This post is adapted from a book I just published: Deconstructing God – A Heretic’s Case For Religion. Available on Amazon or Amazon