You Can’t Politicize Religion Because Religion Is Politics

Religion and PoliticsI came upon this article from over four years ago, The Good Christian. It’s basically about how I don’t dislike Christians. I just dislike Christianity as I normally find it in America. Since then, I’ve written a number of articles about different aspects of this. I think, for example, that the Sermon on the Mount is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing ever. And it makes clear that religion and politics are really the same thing.

Any time someone claims that you are “politicizing” religion, what they really mean is that they don’t like your religion. Unless you are going to stick to theoretical discussions of ontology, religion is politics. And the sort of people who claim that it isn’t are exactly the kind of people who don’t even think of ontology as part of religion. For them, religion is dogma at best, and tribalism at worst. “I’ve been told that the soul enters the fetus at conception, and that’s that.” They really ought to change those bumper stickers that read, “God Said It, I Believe It, That Settles It.” It would be more accurate to say, “My pastor told me, I believe it, that settles it.” Because there ain’t nothing in the “literal word of God” that says the zygote has a soul.

In looking for images for another article, I entered “Liberal Christianity is” into Google and it offered the suggestion, “Liberal Christianity is not Christianity.” There are almost 33 million pages for that search. If you enter “Conservative Christianity is” into Google, it offers the suggestion, “conservative Christianity is dying.” There are a half million pages for that search. “Conservative Christianity is not Christianity” provides only 19 million pages. But it does indicate that in the English language, conservative Christians really think that the basis of their religion is control of women and hatred of fags. (Is it any wonder conservative Christians hate fundamentalist Muslims so much? They are almost the same.)

My Religion Isn’t Political!

There is a constant problem of my religion being obviously what God believes and your religion being obviously just what you want to believe. But the truth is that I value religion and I really am interested in the religious beliefs of others. I’ll be honest though, I’m pretty bored with the the whole “personal relationship with Jesus,” which is so common in this country. For one thing, it is a very recent invention. I don’t know the history, but I don’t think it is more than a few centuries old, and didn’t really catch on until the last fifty years.

But what it does is allow people to imagine that religion is easy — that they have a direct pipeline to God. So any notion that comes into their minds must be true. And this is how we get the vulgar displays of professional football players claiming that God was on their side. It’s vulgar because it belittles religion. It makes it all about the believer and not about God. The sports hero who wins the game had God’s backing, but starving Ethiopian children do not. (Note: Ethiopia is a majority Christian country.)

So you see: even the simple act of proclaiming that God is on your side is a political statement. It is a claim that the status quo is right. God wants the poor to starve. God wants the rich to flourish. We all know that God works in mysterious ways, but those ways lead us to where we are now — to the world as it actually exists. Now I have my own conception of God: a linguistic trick allowing us to talk about the nature of existence. That kind of religion isn’t political, because God isn’t something that has any interest in the world. How could it?! It’s a word! But for the vast majority of religious people here in the United States, religion is little but politics.

Donald Trump’s Heterodoxies Are No Problem With GOP Base

Donald TrumpI listened to a little bit of the most recent Republican debate. And Ted Cruz used the same attack on Donald Trump again and again: that he sounded like Hillary Clinton. But I thought the attacks fell flat. It seems to me that Republicans hate Hillary Clinton because she’s Hillary Clinton; but they don’t think that every idea she has is a bad one. And that’s especially true on foreign policy because she’s well known as a hawk. People like Cruz (and honestly, Marco Rubio too), the Republican catechism is so well known, that they don’t realize it is more or less meaningless to most actual Republicans.

The one bit that stands out is Trump’s claim that he will work a deal that will make everyone in the Middle East happy. To Ted Cruz, this is ridiculous. The United States will stand behind Israel no matter what. If they start dropping atomic bombs on Iran and Saudi Arabia, we will stand with them. This is just Christian Nationalism nonsense. And although there is a good percentage of the Republican Party that believes this stuff, most Republicans (like most Americans) would just like to see the Israel-Palestine conflict worked out. There really are very few people who think, “Israel, right or wrong!”

It makes me think back to being a kid and forced to go to catechism. The Catholic Church doesn’t want its members to be coming to mass out of habit. They want the congregation to understand what it is that the church actually stands for. This whole Republican nominating contest has show that the Republicans really do need the same thing. Because it appears that Republicans don’t much believe in anything other than that “those people” are bad. It’s not surprising, given that for the last 50 years, Republicans have by and large used racist demagoguery to get elected. And it has been so successful that they haven’t even had to justify their ever more exclusive economic policies. But still, you would have thought they would have paid more attention.

Hillary ClintonBut it does lead us to the point where the Republican Party establishment can’t counter someone like Donald Trump by comparing hims policies to Hillary Clinton’s policies. Because the base doesn’t care. They hate Hillary Clinton. They don’t hate Hillary Clinton policies. It’s just like they hate Obamacare, but not Obamacare policies. I’ve noted this many times before. It’s amazing how popular universal healthcare is with Republican voters. It is only when they told that it is not something their side believes in that they have a problem with it. As it is, Obamacare is as conservative a law as you could have that would actually improve the healthcare situation. So why do conservatives hate it? Because they were told to.

During the debate, Ted Cruz attacked Donald Trump for being for the individual mandate. But I think it was just eight years ago that the Republican candidate for president was in favor of the individual mandate. The policies mean nothing to the Republican voters. What matters is that Hillary Clinton is not on their team. And Donald Trump is. Otherwise, who cares? The Republican Party has gone off the rails when it comes to economic matters. Hillary Clinton’s economic policies are far more popular among Republicans than those of Cruz and Rubio.

These candidates — and the whole Republican Party establishment — are fooling themselves if they think Trump’s heterodoxies will hurt him in the Republican primary. Most Republicans don’t even know they are heterodoxies. And the Republican Party establishment ought to be glad that they don’t. Otherwise, they might start voting Democratic.

Morning Music: Life on Mars

Hunky DoryToday, we listen to “Life on Mars.” My favorite David Bowie album by far is Hunky Dory. I’m not even sure why. It’s probably just that there seems to be too much going on in his other albums. And despite the fact that he spent much of his early career dressing like a clown, he seemed always to be taking himself far too seriously. That’s not the ultimate killer, though. I like Aladdin Sane. But there’s something to it. If you want to be taken seriously, don’t be a pop star. And don’t dress up like a clown.

I would have more to say if I weren’t having all kinds of computer problems. So I better get this out. Today, we are listening to “Life on Mars.” I don’t really know what it’s about. I always thought vaguely that it was about those wonderful science fiction films from the 1950s. But I guess it is just a love song. Or something. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. And that’s fine. It’s pleasant to listen to.

Afterword

This was supposed to go up yesterday, but I screwed up the time. So here it is.

Anniversary Post: Leap Day and Hattie McDaniel

Leap Day and Hattie McDanielWell, it’s Leap Day my friends. The only person I’ve ever known who was born on this day was my grandfather. It’s always seemed a curious way to deal with a calendar. But there is a lot about our calendars that I don’t care much for. I don’t like months being different lengths. And then February really screws things up not being static. And why February? Wouldn’t it make more sense to put it in December? You could start with January at 31 days, and then alternate 30, 31, 30, and so on. That would give December 30 days on a Leap year. At least it would make sense and everyone would be straight on the number of days in each month.

Given that we just had the Academy Awards, it’s interesting to note that Hattie McDaniel won her award for Best Supporting Actress on Leap Day in 1940 for Gone With the Wind. Such awards generally make a career in Hollywood, and Hattie McDaniel was no different. She went on to play maids in several films before moving into radio and television. She died at the age of 57 of breast cancer.

The one good thing about Leap Day, however, is that it does provide another day of work this month to get paid. I didn’t get much work done this weekend, because the very idea of it seems just too much. Not that there is much of an alternative. We have, as usual, the Schopenhauerian paradox of working to work some more. The one place that’s not true is working on the book. Soon, it will be done and I will never be stupid enough to get involved in such a ridiculous waste of time again. That’s a cheerful thought.

But we have to salute Hattie McDaniel. She was good, even if Gone With the Wind is really a far more troublesome film than Birth of a Nation. I mean, only film students watch Birth of a Nation, and I’m convinced a fair section of Americans get their ideas about slavery from Gone With the Wind.

Sanders’ South Carolina Collapse May Mean Nothing for Pundits

Sanders - South CarolinaBefore the South Carolina primary, Real Clear Politics had him pegged at losing by 27.5 percentage points. Then the election took place and he lost by a staggering 47.5 percentage points. It doesn’t mean that his campaign is finished — there are other states where he stands to do better. But it looks very, very bad for him.

This should not come as a surprise. Early this month, I wrote, Could Sanders Win? Why Is Clinton Whining?! That article was the result of my research after New Hampshire. What I found was that Nevada was the only state Sanders had any chance at all and then Clinton totally dominated. So I wondered why people were freaking out.

Even granting that campaigns can get out of hand, Sanders never saw any movement in South Carolina. So the hysteria of Paul Krugman and Jonathan Chait seemed more like a reflection of the kind of people that they hang out with. What did they know of the voters of South Carolina? All they knew was that there they had upper class liberal friends who were very keen on Sanders. So the pundits freaked out because they feared it was the leading edge. These educated and affluent liberals were the tastemakers who all us poor nobodies would follow.

But in the name of protecting Clinton (who never needed his protection), he’s made the whole idea of universal healthcare seem like a pipe dream that could never happen here in America.

But I saw something in a recent Krugman post that made me think something else has been going on, How to Read Primary Results. He said, “Oh, and hold the Hillary-hatred and all that, OK?” He wanted to talk about something more general and didn’t want the Hillary-Sanders war to get in the middle of it. But it is telling that it is the Hillary-haters who were called out by name.

Is this really what this has been all about? I’ll admit, I know a lot of people who just don’t like Hillary Clinton. And by and large, it isn’t for real reasons. It’s more visceral than that. But you know how it goes: pretty much everything starts visceral and then gets lots of intellectual justifications to drop on top of it. But isn’t that the case with Bernie Sanders too?

And let’s face it: there might have been a whole lot more anti-Hillary nitwits on Twitter and Facebook. But if you turned on the cable news shows, you were much more likely to hear an anti-Bernie nitwit. I’m not suggesting that the people who so hated Sanders did so for the same reason. I think the hatred of Sanders was mostly like the early hatred of Trump by the Republican establishment: they just didn’t think that Sanders could win.

South Carolina Is Only the Beginning

The whole thing now strikes me as an exercise in nonsense. What Krugman did to Sanders’ universal healthcare proposal, he could have done to Obama’s plan. You will note that Obama, in the end, didn’t get the plan he campaigned on. But in the name of protecting Clinton (who never needed his protection), he’s made the whole idea of universal healthcare seem like a pipe dream that could never happen here in America.

After New Hampshire, I predicted what would happen — based on nothing but the polls. South Carolina went big for Clinton. On Super Tuesday, Sanders will win Vermont. He might squeak out a victory in Massachusetts, but I suspect that he will lose there too. But maybe we will still need more anti-Sanders articles, because you know: there will still be a lot of people on Facebook saying mean things about Clinton.

Anniversary Post: MASH and Pope Benedict End

MASHWhat do you want to hear? The last episode of MASH aired on this day in 1983. In general, I think that MASH got worse over time. The show never really recovered from the loss of McLean Stevenson. Potter just annoyed the hell out of me. And no offense to Mike Farrell, but the writers never managed to make “happily married man” thing work. Burns was always a bad character. In real life, that kind of chauvinism was very true of early 1950s America. But in the context of the series, he was impotent — he could never get the advantage over the leads. So in that way, the replacement of him with David Ogden Stiers was brilliant. And it was done in a way that was believable. But I’ll admit, the final episode did have its moments. But I think that was the last time I watched the final episode of anything. Because I just don’t care enough.

Pope Benedict XVIBut also, just three years ago, Pope Benedict XVI stepped down. You would have thought that by now he would have had the good taste to die. But I suspect that he didn’t step down because he was physically unable to do the job. I think he simply understood that he couldn’t manage the child rape situation. So they figured, “Let’s get a Jesuit — they’re known for not being quite so horrible as the other orders.” Anyway, he turns 89 in April. I don’t know what to think of the Catholic Church at this time. But then, I don’t know what to think of most institutions. And child rape seems to be something that is very common in all the major religions that have big taboos about sex.

So there you go: pick your poison. There’s the end of MASH and there’s the end of Pope Benedict XVI. I don’t think anyone was that upset at seeing them go.

Morning Music: California Über Alles

California Über AllesI think I’ve been pretty open about my belief that Jello Biafra’s singing kind of ruins the otherwise great Dead Kennedys. But he was also the soul of the band. And his writing was great. And don’t get me wrong: I understand that Biafra’s voice was meant to be annoying. But that doesn’t change much. Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables is a great album despite his vocals. But if those vocals work anywhere, it is on “California Über Alles.”

It’s funny to listen to California Über Alles now. It is an attack on Jerry Brown from the left — extreme left. It calls him a fascist. And based upon its content, you would well imagine Biafra growing into some kind of libertarian freak later in life. But that didn’t happen. Biafra has only become more serious and thoughtful throughout his life. The song was meant more to be a joke anyway. The point, more than anything, was that Jerry Brown was power hungry and that everything he did was in the service of becoming President of the United States. And there is something to be said for that interpretation of the Jerry Brown of the 1970s, just as it is of Gavin Newsom today.

Not California Über Alles, but America…

But what’s really amazing is that we now live in a nation in which we have actual big name politicians who are the modern day equivalent of fascists. California Über Alles? Well, there are a whole lot of Americans who would proudly sing, “United States Über Alles.” I’ve gotten to be tired of people claiming that politicians like Cruz and Rubio and Trump are not fascists. I don’t think you can base modern politicians by the details of old politicians. All the Republican candidates are in favor of the same kind of government supported business system — a kind of modern feudalism. And does anyone question that if Pakistan went to war with us that all of these men would be eager to round up all Muslims and put them in camps? (Cheered on by Sam Harris, no doubt.)

Today, Jerry Brown is the ultimate technocrat. He’s been a great governor for the state. And there is no doubt that he is liberal. But he’s never been a radical. But our country’s politics is so out of balance that he is seen as an extremist today. All liberals are. When the old and unhealthy Antonin Scalia died, millions of them spent days talking about how he must have been murdered. This is projection, pure and simple. Even as conservatives have been highly successful over the last 40 years accomplishing their stated goals, they are unhappy. Because what they really want — what they always wanted, was fascism in America. They want a nation where it is just accepted that patriotism means cheering every act of state belligerence.

In that context, “California Über Alles” is not as funny a song as it ought to be. But it’s still pretty great.

Anniversary Post: Edict of Thessalonica

St Ambrose and Emperor Theodosius (van Dyck) - Edict of ThessalonicaOn this day in 380 CE, the Edict of Thessalonica was released in the Roman Empire. It was issued by emperors Theodosius I, Gratian, and Valentinian II. And it basically said that all Roman citizens should convert to Christianity. It was the result of Constantine’s conversion to Christianity in 312. As I discussed before, this was when Christianity died, “No religion ever survives this kind of power.” And the Edict of Thessalonica shows that ultimately, religion is about power. If religion is about God, you don’t need governments stepping in and telling people what they must believe.

What the people were told they must believe was specifically Nicene Christianity. And anyone who was ever forced to go to Sunday school or catechism can tell you what that is. “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible.” Given that God made all things, you would think he could just tell the people himself. This is why it is so funny in Small Gods that the Great God Om comes down to Discworld and only manages to be a tortoise. He has a grand total of one believer. Most people don’t think through their religious beliefs very well. That’s why we are so blessed to have minds as brilliant as Terry Pratchett to do it for us. Unfortunately, people insist upon reading things like the Bible rather than Small Gods.

Edict of Thessalonica: Not Just Any Christianity

Of course, it couldn’t be just any old Christianity either. The Edict of Thessalonica chose a side in an ongoing religious war. People have this odd idea that Christians mostly got along except for big events. We know the Orthodox split from the Catholics. We know the Protestant split from the Catholics. And we know the Spanish Inquisition. But the truth is that the religion has been fighting within itself from the beginning. Things are actually more placid now than they ever have been. There are zillions of different kinds of Christianity (including Mormonism). But they don’t seem to care enough (or believe strongly enough) to do much fighting. Still, it could all fly apart again. After all, no one expected the Spanish Inquisition.

So what was the effect of the Edict of Thessalonica? Well, just what you would expect. According to Wikpedia, “After the edict, Theodosius spent a great deal of energy suppressing all non-Nicene forms of Christianity, especially Arianism, and in establishing Nicene orthodoxy throughout his realm.” This was because he believed in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible — who was nonetheless dependent on petty dictators to make sure that the people worshiped the right god in the right way. Otherwise, without the Edict of Thessalonica, people might have worshiped a god that didn’t need so much care and upkeep. And then imagine what would have happened: people would have been oppressed in the name of the wrong god!

The CIA’s Website Has A Kids’ Zone

CIA Kids ZoneI was wondering aloud the other day, “What does the CIA actually do?”

We know what the NSA does. It spies on everybody! If this serves any purpose, well, I can’t even fathom how they could begin to process all the data they collect. They have a ginormous satellite dish in Africa used for catching signals bounced off the moon.

(Does that sound silly? It certainly does. It sounded silly to me when I read about it in James Bamford’s Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency, first published in 2002. Would you like a heavily redacted NSA PDF about this satellite dish? You’re welcome.)

So we know what the NSA does. And we know what the FBI does, or used to do. The FBI was, for decades, America’s KGB. The internal security service, protecting us from one Jackie Robinson or Martin Luther King at a time. Thanks, J Edgar!

Now it seems the FBI is basically in charge of sting operations targeting Islamic terrorists. Except, they can’t apparently catch many terrorists. No worries; what you can’t discover, you can always make up. The FBI has a fantastic track record of entrapping poor miserable suckers into terror plots the FBI creates, goads the suckers into joining, then busts them and notches another Crime Solved on its belt. It’s a dirty job, but nobody has to do it.

(You could believe me on this. Or you could believe Arun Kundnani’s fine book, The Muslims Are Coming. Or Human Rights Watch and the Columbia University Law School. It’s up to you.)

What’s the CIA Up to These Days?

The last we heard from the CIA was a long while ago. CIA analysts (so not a Freudian term) were warning the Bush/Cheney administration “do not start the Iraq War; it’ll be a disaster for the human species” and being told in response, “go screw yourself, Frodo.”

It has a logo featuring something like the Soviet spy “Natasha” from Rocky & Bullwinkle. If you click on K-5, you get to meet “Aerial, the ace photography pigeon.” If you click on 6-12, you get this nugget of 100% not creepy-culty wisdom…

Clearly the CIA is still around. Although I’m not exactly sure why we spend money on an intelligence agency whose information we ignore when it’s inconvenient. The US could just give me a few billions dollars. I’m fully capable of saying “War dumb wrong stupid! No do wrong stupid war!” The government already ignores me, so there would be no learning curve. It’d be cheaper, and I’d get to fly around the world in jets. I like jets.

So. What’s the CIA doing these days?

I wondered, and then I realized — well, they probably have a website.

Indeed, they do have a website. Because, why not? Everyone loves websites. They’re so friendly.

It features a top story about the CIA’s diversity training, which makes me think of a Larry Wilmore bit. It has an appropriately evasive FAQ. Want to know how much money the CIA wastes on “go screw yourself, Frodo” every year? Alas, “neither the number of employees nor the size of the Agency’s budget can, at present, be publicly disclosed.” Gosh, that’s a shame. Yet you expected as much.

CIA Kids’ Zone

What you didn’t expect was the CIA Kids’ Zone.

Yes. This is on the CIA’s website. It exists. And it’s awesome.

It has a logo featuring something like the Soviet spy “Natasha” from Rocky & Bullwinkle. If you click on K-5, you get to meet “Aerial, the ace photography pigeon.” If you click on 6-12, you get this nugget of 100% not creepy-culty wisdom: “We figure you probably know a little something about the CIA or you wouldn’t be here. Right away, we like your curiosity and your ability to find information. In fact, our employees know how to access information.”

Do the Brits have a “Kids’ Zone” on their spook agency websites? Hell, no, they don’t! Because America rocks, folks.

One criticism of the CIA’s “Kids’ Zone.” Most of the games you can play are way too hard or way too easy. Cryptography is impossible (although if you think it’s not, feel free to try.) “Aerial Analysis” of drone photos, now that’s just easy. Duh, if there’s a ski lodge in the picture, the local economy is based on tourism. Anybody not planning to institute a neocon utopia by conquering a country they know nothing about could get this immediately.

The game I liked best was the “Photo Analysis Challenge.” Spot the differences between two pictures a guy snapped under his raincoat! Annoyingly, if you don’t get the differences right, you’re just forced to retake the test, and it doesn’t tell you where the ones you missed were. But I got all of them until the last test. That one was super-tricky.

I deeply loathe the American intelligence agencies. I wish they didn’t exist. I think we could spend far less money on them, catch the occasional crook, and avoid wars our experts told us we would be foolish to start.

Isn’t it quintessentially American, though, to have a military agency we spend gazillions on, which has a deep history of horrible actions, whose brightest minds we dismiss when powerful people want to dismiss these things. And it has a Kids’ Zone on their website?!

Sometimes it’s just impossible not to love this country.

Morning Music: Not Great Men by Gang of Four

Gang of Four - Not Great MenI think I should apologize. I’ve been so angry for the last day! All I’ve been writing about is that anger. I don’t even know what’s going on in the world. And I do want to get past it. But it’s hard when people think they can just yell at you and call you names. All I feel I can do is get through this as quickly as possible. There are awful people in the world. And those awful people are usually the people with the most power. It made me think of the great Gang of Four song “Not Great Men.”

It’s about how the books of history are filled with strong men, but not great men. Although I would take exception to even the idea that the history books are filled with strong men. Sure, there are strong men, but mostly history is made by the people who were born to it. But they are certainly “Not Great Men.”

If you looked at humans the way you look at an ant colony, you would see all the wars and such as cut off from what’s really going on. Ever since the Neolithic Revolution, the real action has been going on in the farms. The great men were the ones who inch by inch improved how agriculture was done. The people fighting wars or involved in “business” were just living off the efforts of the true heroes. So history is not made by great men. It is defined by men who had the power to define it as something that ought to be written down and revered.

“Not Great Men” is a great song. I love listening to it. But more than the song itself, it is just knowing that other people get it — they understand that all the hero worship is nonsense.

Anniversary Post: Tower Commission and Reagan’s Dementia

Ronald Reagan - Tower CommissionOn this day in 1987, the Tower Commission released its report on the Iran-Contra Affair. It “held Reagan accountable for a lax managerial style and aloofness from policy detail.” I think the only one who actually went to jail over the whole thing was Oliver North. Of course, he’s a great hero to conservatives. There is nothing that conservatives love so much is people who break the law in the name of overthrowing democratically elected governments.

I remember Reagan testifying before the Tower Commission. Basically, he just couldn’t remember anything. Not that it matters. It’s kind of like Chris Christie. Everyone knew what the big man wanted. And what he wanted was for his people to break a law that Congress passed specifically to stop the administration from doing what it was doing — and did.

The only reason the power elite put up with democracy in America, is because they know they control it. When democracy actually works in other places — when the government isn’t completely beholden to our government and corporations — well then, democracy is a bad thing. It’s a very Animal Farm kind of thing: democracy is something we completely believe in — as long as it results in what we want. What the people want doesn’t matter in the least.

So the Tower Commission found that Reagan was incompetent. But almost no one today knows what the Tower Commission was. And they think that Ronald Reagan was a super keen president. This is despite the fact that during the Tower Commission, Reagan was doubtless already suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. But what does that matter when he was so great in front of a television camera? The truth is, he seemed deeply confused in the first debate he had against Mondale in 1984. He probably wasn’t all there in 1980. But maybe a president doesn’t have to be — at least a Republican one.

Laziness and Presumption of the Conservative Mind

Conservative MindIn my continuing adventures with my difficult person, I have been told repeatedly that I am lazy and ungrateful. This is entirely typical of the conservative mind. I am lazy because I do not want to spend a great deal of time working on a project that pays almost nothing and, if anything, makes me a less valuable commodity. I am ungrateful because the businesses involved are doing all their work (which is little) out of the goodness of their hearts.

The reality of the situation is that I am a known author with a book that has an almost mythical reputation. It will sell. And I certainly could have self-published it and made far more money than I will under the current contract. I did not want to republish the book and I was talked into it during a moment of weakness. The publisher and the distributor will make far more money than I will. But I don’t care. There are people who want the book, and now they will be able to get it. But to the conservative mind, I am being done a great service.

But note the conservative delusion. We sign contracts, but that’s all just pretense. What’s really going on is that the rich are so kindhearted that they are providing work for this miserable writer who would never make a cent if it weren’t for their largess. One has to wonder why the government had to start the WPA during the Great Depression when there were so many rich companies who exist only to make work for useless people like me.

The Conservative Mind Begins

Let me explain to you how all this got started. I got two hysterical email messages because I had submitted a book chapter where the header line listed the wrong chapter. I wasn’t pleased at the freak out. I wrote back rather more aggressively than I should have that this was the result of the publisher’s demand that chapters can only be so long, because apparently, all books have to be exactly the same and she never bothered to look at the book in the first place. And then the dam broke and I received hundreds of words of bile. So I apologized and said I had misunderstood the tone of the original email. This was responded to with many more hundreds of words of bile. The conservative mind just can’t let things go. Anger and hatred are what drive it.

This is the conservative mind. I should be grateful to my betters and be willing to work hundreds of hours on this book. And I should always be a good little boy and constantly voice my utter gratefulness that anyone in the world would be willing to publish such a poor and unprofessional writer as I. Now compare this to the liberal company I work for. When I took over managing writers, the biggest concern was that I encourage the writers. The owner of the company understands that the money he makes is a direct result of the people who work for him. He sees the employer-employee relationship as one of equality and mutual respect. And this employer pays me more in a week than I will ever make off this book.

But this isn’t just about the current situation I find myself in. If you watch Fox Business, you will see lots of people going on about how employees should put up with every kind of indignity. They should work for nothing. And if they do it just right, the employer will reward them with a good job. This is why unions are unnecessary — they presume that workers should have some kind of equality of power to employers.

The Conservative Mind’s Faux Threat

To give you an idea of just how ridiculous the conservative mind is in this case, the first email messages I received threatened to kill the project. This was supposed to make me frightened. But my position was, “Great! Let’s kill it!” But of course, the book won’t be killed because the publisher knows that the book will make money. Now I am told we can’t kill the book because people have put work in it. This is a typical moralistic argument that conservatives use against others, but would never accept when directed toward themselves. Part of the cost of doing business is paying for things that don’t work out. Newspapers of old used to assign twice as many articles to be written as were ever published. But in the modern conservative mind, they can never risk anything. It can charge extra for losses it claims will incur, but it will never allow those losses if it can use a moral stick against what it considers to be its lessers.

So you might be wondering why I being so public with my anger. Well, I’m not mentioning the publisher by name. And really: what do I have to lose? The book will be published, because despite what the conservative claims, it is being published because it will make money. None of the hundreds of words telling me how awful I am have been in the service of getting the book done. Well, not completely. I now plan to provide the finished book by next week. But the result of that will be that I’m going to do far less to improve and update the book than I was doing. The publisher has yet to read anything I’ve sent. The concern is that the headers must be right, I must provide scans of the tiny number of images in the book, and that the text must be double spaced. So the publisher will get the really important things: proper formatting.

A world with only conservatives would not be a world worth living in. And I am so looking forward to delivering the book so that my only communication will be the occasional tax document.