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JDPriestly's Journal
JDPriestly's Journal
December 5, 2012

It isn't that Manning is so much more deserving.

No prisoner deserves to be treated like Manning has been treated, neither before nor after conviction.

Solitary confinement is difficult enough, but it should not be the job of the prisons or pre-trial jails to attempt to obliterate a prisoner's personality, perhaps their ability to remember accurately or to speak coherently through sensory deprivation and humiliation, especially before trial.

Manning is not more deserving than other prisoners. He is just better known.

In addition, there is a lot of sympathy for Manning because of the suspicion on our parts that many of the "secrets" he revealed were being kept secret simply because they were embarrassing to our military and also to our diplomatic corps, not because their secrecy had any strategic importance.

The disclosures of Manning reminded us of the corruption, immorality, cruelty, carelessness, moral laziness, error and bullying that occurs in war. It reminds us that the embedding of journalists with our troops has prevented us from seeing the ugliness of war and of what a nation like ours does to civilians when we fight a war.

Manning reminded us about the killing and death, of the suffering of innocent journalists, of small children in war. And since so few journalists have had the courage to talk graphically about the horror of war in recent years, we are very grateful to Manning for telling the truth.

So much silence and so many lies, and then there is Bradley Manning just telling the truth. It was just so honest and refreshing.

Yes. He is alleged to have broken his oath. And that is a serious matter. I agree with you on that.

But then, had he not broken his oath, we would not have the evidence of the crimes that he revealed, so that causes us to give him some credit along with condemnation.

We have to thank Manning for asking, with his revelations, the simple question: Is war worth it?

The answer is clearly no. In particular, the War in Iraq was not worth it. All the killing of innocents, of the merely angry who were not any real threat to our national security, the revenge, the heartlessness, the cunning, the use of weapons that dehumanize the victim and make them into computer targets.

So we are grateful to Manning in spite of his disloyalty because he went beyond his duty to a place of honesty. It's just so refreshing.

I think that if he committed a crime, he should have been treated with respect like the human being he is and given a fair trial. Under the circumstances and after what he has been through, he cannot be given a fair trial. The military justice system is more on trial here than is Bradley Manning. It's a real shame.

December 2, 2012

Compare: Soldiers who were convicted of committing acts of

mistreating prisoners at Abu Ghraib:

An Army reservist who appeared in several of the most infamous abuse photos taken by guards at Abu Ghraib prison was sentenced Tuesday to six months in prison for her role in the scandal that rocked the U.S. military's image at home and abroad.

The sentence for Spc. Sabrina Harman came a day after she was convicted on six of the seven counts she faced for mistreating detainees at the Baghdad lockup in late 2003. She faced a maximum of five years in prison, though prosecutors asked the jury to give her three years.

With credit for time served, Harman's actual sentence will be just more than four months.


The United States Department of Defense removed seventeen soldiers and officers from duty, and eleven soldiers were charged with dereliction of duty, maltreatment, aggravated assault and battery. Between May 2004 and March 2006, eleven soldiers were convicted in courts martial, sentenced to military prison, and dishonorably discharged from service. Two soldiers, Specialist Charles Graner, and his former fiancée, Specialist Lynndie England, were sentenced to ten years and three years in prison, respectively, in trials ending on January 14, 2005 and September 26, 2005. The commanding officer of all Iraq detention facilities, Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, was reprimanded for dereliction of duty and then demoted to the rank of Colonel on May 5, 2005. Col. Karpinski has denied knowledge of the abuses, claiming that the interrogations were authorized by her superiors and performed by subcontractors, and that she was not even allowed entry into the interrogation rooms.

. . .

The prisoner Manadel al-Jamadi died in Abu Ghraib prison after being interrogated and tortured by a CIA officer and a private contractor. The torture included physical violence and strappado hanging, whereby the victim is hung from the wrists with the hands tied behind the back. His death has been labeled a homicide by the US military,[8] but neither of the two men who caused his death have been charged. The private contractor was granted qualified immunity.[9]


Who fares better in the US military prisons and justice system?

Someone who violates the law and mistreats prisoners?

Or someone who blows the whistle on perceived violations of law?

Can a bully expect a lighter sentence than a person who speaks out from a compassionate, if arguably misguided motive?

We shall see.

But I recognize that a part of me is in all of them.

There are moments in life, in the life of a nation as in the life of a person, in which the underlying moral fiber of the nation is tested.

Is there a moral rectitude that supersedes all else?

Do we confront our own evil and allow ourselves to be judged and condemned by others?

Or do we cower behind the rigid application of rules to condemn that part of ourselves that is honest and open about our mistakes and misdeeds?

Manning is a challenge for our nation and for our military. What happens to Manning may predict whether we survive as a free nation or whether we become a nation that lies to itself and hides its ugly truths.

Sometimes the path between insuring the security of our nation and destroying the very freedom and human values that make our nation worth securing is very hard to find much less follow.

August 20, 2012

Whenever the US wants to rid itself of a pesky but likable and outspoken

individual who is involved in liberal politics, they feign outrage about the person's sex life -- an affair, nude pictures on the internet, something, always something sexual.

\I think it is a psy-ops technique. They don't have to kill the person. They just destroy the willingness of people to say that they think highly of him (or her).

People are taught as small children to be very ashamed of sexual matters. Only very mature people overcome that shame and accept themselves.

I have been watching this. Face it. Sex is all over TV, the movies, the internet. It is something we hate and enjoy, fear and cannot resist all our lives. Sex and love are closely intertwined. We humans need physical contact. And there is a thin line between asexual and sexual contact.

Therefore, on a deep, emotional, psychological level, we all have a lot of conflicts about the behavior of others and of ourselves in this area. We hide things about our sexual feelings even from ourselves. That makes us vulnerable. And when we feel vulnerable we are weak and lack courage. That is why it was torture for the American soldiers at Abu Ghraib to ridicule the prisoners about their sexuality.

One way to destroy the willingness of people to stand up for an underdog or to admit to liking a person who may be your political or social rival is to associate shameful sexual behavior with that person. Kids in early adolescence, for example, will tease a bright kid about "liking" the class nerd or the ugly girl. And the classic case is picking on the effeminate boy or the masculine girl or even accusing someone of being a sissy or a lesbian for a cruel laugh. Takes courage and unusual self-confidence on the part of another teenager to defend the kid being taunted about his or her sexuality. Same for adults.

As a woman, I am particularly aware of this. When I reached the age of 50 and began to "lose my looks," or at least feel that I did, I had a sense on the one hand of liberation and on the other of sadness for the loss of a youthful appearance.

The liberation was the interesting emotion and the wonderful gift. It was the result of no longer being viewed primarily as a sex object by half of the human race.

So, the "shame on you" for being a sexually attractive/attracted person card no longer is played against me or other women of my age. That is why I am so interested in what I think may be the either instinctive or strategic and purposeful use of sex scandals to cause us to feel revulsion about certain people who are prominent in politics.

I think that the Swedish sex charges against Assange are rather contrived. Technically there may have been a rape. But it would be very difficult to prove that rape occurred. I think this is an attempt to destroy Assange by shaming him and anyone who defends his publication of information embarrassing to our government. It is psy-ops in my opinion.

Sorry this is long-winded, but I am just now figuring out this psy-ops angle. It is what has been bothering me about a number of situations like this from Spitzer to Edwards to Wiener to some of the hypocritical Republicans.

Oddly enough, behavior that damages millions of people, behavior like war and all the killings it involves, like depriving people of healthcare, like permitting people to subsist without a roof over their heads, like the horrible conduct of the bankers (MF Global comes to mind) does not reach that deep psychological nerve in us that causes us to look at it again and again and feel revulsion. But a juicy sex scandal -- every time. It's like a conditioned reflex.

August 12, 2012

When you are young, you believe that you will do well.

Many fools even think that, if they just work hard, they can do as well as Romney and Ryan have done.

They don't stop to think about all the advantages and good luck a Romney has to have, that millions and millions of people around the world work really hard and do their best and end up hungry and poor. And that lots of those people are right here in America.

This truth does not sell. The rich don't like it because it makes them look like they have more than they deserve (which most of them do). Businesses don't like it and won't pay to have it told because that story does not sell their products. And the poor don't like it because it makes them feel hopeless and depressed.

But it is the doggone truth.

For every Romney, there are hundreds of thousands of people who would simply curl up and die for hunger and no place to live if we allowed our country to be dragged into the Ayn Randian model that Ryan and Romney want to foist on us.

Fact is, that Romney had huge advantages that the rest of us never had -- a well known, successful father who came into his power at a time of great economic expansion in our country, educational opportunities that very few are given, a name that got him in the doors in high places, and a community of Mormons who see him as the ticket to acceptance for a rather conglomeration of ideas and theories.

As for Ryan, he came from a middle class family -- father a lawyer, but his wife's family is wealthy. (Properties with oil and gas for one thing.) So he too had a huge lucky break that very, very few get, regardless of how intelligent or charming or willing to brown-nose to the top they are.

Those of us who are normal and suffering -- whether under 55 or over -- had better stick together. For those of you who are young, the 7 1/2% of your paycheck that you set aside in Social Security taxes (plus the other portion your employer pays) is safe and sound as long as we all pull together.

Ryan thinks that everyone is as selfish and corrupt as he is, and that we will divide into two camps -- under 55 and over 55. That's not going to happen.

And here is why.

We who are over 55 know that as soon as these Republican criminals would succeed in persuading those under 55 to give up their Social Security and Medicare, they would start a campaign to get rid of Social Security and Medicare for those of us over 65. They are just greedy you-know-whats and they are after our money.

For those of you who are under 55 and investing in growth stocks and thinking how well they are doing. Forget it. Once you retire, you don't risk that little bit of money in your 401(K) in growth stocks. You invest conservatively to protect the small nest egg you have. And for 99% of us, there is no way we could live off the interest and earnings. That's because interest rates in banks are at most maybe 3% and earnings on other things -- and on other safe investments, maybe 4%?? (Those low mortgage rates have a reverse side -- low returns to savers and investors who are loaning the money for those mortgages.) Sit down and figure how much money you will have to have saved to even earn $14,000 per year at an interest rate of maybe 2% average.

Unless you are either a fool or have a lot of money, you do not trade in stocks or try to pick stocks once you retire. And most of us do not have the savings to hire a reliable financial adviser. As for ETFs, if the market is down when you have an emergency, you are sunk. You have lost. So even saving and investing in the ETF markets will never replace Social Security and Medicare. Because Social Security and Medicare are there for you, whether the markets are bad or good, you at least get something.

A lot of people lost their homes because they trusted the nonsense that the Bush administration sold about how we could become an "ownership" society. An "owned" society is more like it.

Don't be fooled.

No matter how well you are doing now or how good you think your future will be, you don't want to put all your eggs in the Wall Street basket. You don't want to trust your final years to a bunch of greedy clowns on Wall Street, much less to Romney and Ryan.

July 27, 2012

The 1% of today made most of its money off the technology and industry of WWII.

The computer industry, for example, was the baby of government-paid employees working with private industry in WWII. That's where the technology that has so drastically improved efficiency and productivity in our economy was developed.

Bill Gates did not invent the concept of a computer. He developed the concept of the PC based on work done in WWII and thereafter thanks to government investment and contracts.

Interestingly, the leaders, the primary inventors and developers in the PC business (as opposed to the huge computers used by the military in the post-war, Cold War years) were born in and around 1955. They were part of the often maligned generation of the baby boomers. That's Bill Gates, for example. Bill Gates had access to a clumsy cold war era computer at his private school when he was a teenager. That is how he got his start. Most (not all perhaps) of the two or three key pioneers in the PC industry have similar stories.

So, in addition to working people, our increased productivity which has enabled the extremely wealthy to get where they are is owed not just to individual ingenuity, talent and hard work, but to a lot of government research, subsidies and infrastructure. That's why the 1% who have enriched themselves off the backs of the people who together paid for that technology need to pay back more in taxes to give this nation a good start on the innovation of tomorrow.

It's just too risky and not interesting enough to established businesses to do the fundamental research that leads to the kind of technology that the businesses of the future will need to stay innovative. Think of the pure math that is behind a lot of the technology of today. That very fundamental work that we don't even realize is done happens in universities. And whether those institutions are private or public, much of that work is done thanks to government grants by people who, quite often owe part or all of their education from kindergarten through post-graduate school -- to government schools and grants and programs.

Think of the frontiers of tomorrow -- for example, healing and using the oceans for more than just fishing and shipping. Dealing with climate change. Dealing with the new health challenges that climate change will bring. Dealing with the unimaginably difficult challenges of overpopulation. Trying to educate people not just to handle new technology but to live together in peace.

The aristocracy that the 1% dreams of creating does not and cannot deal with those challenges. Aristocracies focus on retaining their power, on increasing their profits and exploiting the energy of their vassals and serfs. They expand their holdings primarily (although not entirely) through war, not through creativity. They fund things that are useful to them. If the Middle Ages and pre-modern world are measures, they build an infrastructure based on maintaining the status quo. They are quintessentially conservative -- fighting to hold on to what they have and take from others, not innovate.

We can't let the 1% take over. We need democracy. We need a healthy government as well as a healthy number of smaller, competing businesses and industries.

The extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of the few is the greatest of the immediate challenges that we Americans face. It is driving us toward a feudal structure with a hereditary elite -- the antithesis of the American dream and a sure prescription for failure.

Raise the taxes on the top 1% or 2% in this country. It isn't just about money.

They aren't going to create the kinds of jobs we want or need.

And, by the way, that bit about how selfish and greedy consumers are. It's the consumers who are in the 1% who are the most selfish and greedy. Especially nowadays, most people on this earth are struggling to get by, to feed and clothe and house their children and parents. Most people are not selfish and greedy. Most people are barely surviving.

June 29, 2012

Excellent analysis, however, Obama may be waiting to attack, and he may

be able to fight back quite effectively through surrogates. (That includes us, DUers.)

Sorry for the length of the rant that follows, but:

Let the right-wing arguments sink in and become old hat. In August, some Americans will begin to receive rebate checks from their insurance companies and honest folks will begin to ask intelligent questions.

Fact is, Americans are paying the equivalent of this "tax" for health care insurance now. We pay it to the health care insurance company and doctors of our choice. We will continue to pay for our health care insurance "tax," and continue to pay it TO THE HEALTH CARE INSURANCE COMPANY AND DOCTORS OF OUR CHOICE.

Most Americans will not pay this "tax" to the government. And those who do will pay a relatively small amount to Uncle Sam because they have figured out that they can get their health care cheaper that way. If you earn very little and can't afford health care, you do not have to pay either the insurance company or the government. Nothing changes for you either.

The things that will change are those that Papantonio mentioned -- more accountability as to how our insurance dollars, our "taxes," are spent, rebates of a certain percentage of our premiums -- of the part that the company does not spend on healthcare, coverage for pre-existing conditions, no denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions, affordable coverage for most Americans, coverage for children under age 26 by the parents' insurance, more free coverage for preventive care, more cooperation and coordination among your doctors and between your hospital's doctors and surgeons and your family doctor (especially for seniors), less waste and fewer gimmicks like offering some seniors memberships in health clubs and charging that to the Medicare Advantage bill. (Which regular Medicare does not pay for.)

The bill will have its failings. They will have to be corrected. That's the way legislation works. The glitches get amended. But it's a great start.

And while I agree with Roberts that the plan is an exercise of Congress' tax and spend authority and not of its authority to regulate commerce, this is not a new tax. This is a "tax" that we have been paying, or at least most of us have been paying, for a long time -- at least since we became adults and started working. And if you are a woman or have a pre-existing condition (which nearly everyone over 55 has) and have been honest with your insurance company, chances are you have been paying a very high, trumped-up "tax," an unfair "tax" that will now be made fairer.

This bill will mean life itself for many, many children (and adults) whose pre-existing conditions have served as an excuse for exclusion from health insurance coverage.

This bill will mean that our emergency rooms are not filled with poor people who cannot afford health care insurance and who sit endless hours in the emergency room to get treatments a primary care doctor could render in his office more efficiently and economically.

It is human nature to be afraid of change. But this bill is not going to bring about threatening change. It will bring about positive change.

Remember when you were a child. You heard scary stories from other children and read frightening fairy tales and got terrified of the dark. You woke up, saw shadows and thought there might be monsters in the room. At camp, you huddled with your friends in a tent and tried to see who could tell the scariest story. Well, that's what Republicans do.

"The sky is falling. The sky is falling."

Don't believe it. The Republicans will, once again, be proved wrong by the facts. Let's just calmly inform ourselves of the facts and prepare to discuss them gently and intelligently. That is the best strategy.

We are going to have to be strong and unmoved by the Republicans' fear on this.

We are, as usual, going to have to hold a lot of Republican hands because they are going to work themselves into a frenzy over this. That's their high. They rev up the adrenalin and then they "feel good." Marijuana may be illegal, but working yourself into an adrenalin frenzy is not -- and that is what Republicans enjoy.

Reason and calm are the best remedies for Republican fear.

June 5, 2012

You make an interesting point.

I have three large avocado trees in my back yard. Every spring each of them sprouts thousands of blossoms. Literally thousands of tiny blossoms show up on each tree. Then the sorrel flowers beneath the trees bloom, and, drawn by the bright yellow sorrel flowers, the bees show up -- always on schedule around 10:00 a.m. every morning -- and pollinate the avocado blossoms.

Thousands of tiny blossoms, each created to become an avocado and so many bees. I begin to dream of trees sagging from the weight of avocados. This year, I think. This year we will have more than enough avocados to feed us, all our neighbors and our friends with some left over. Hmmm. Guacamole, I can taste it in my mouth.

The baby avocados form, tiny, plump green balls on the branches of the trees where the blossoms were. And then, just as sure as the blossoms sprouted and the sorrel bloomed and the bees arrived, most of the baby avocados fall to the ground within days and weeks of their creation.

The avocado "embryos" cover my yard. Only a few survive on the limbs of my trees. I'm sure there is some way to increase the numbers of avocados that survive, but I don't know what it is.

Nature promises; nature pollinates; nature creates thousands of avocado embryos. And then, nature kills most of its promises, most of the baby avocados.

The avocados that do survive are strong and healthy and in the right number to mature into large avocados in our back yard. Let me assure you, our avocados are the best you can find, far better than any you buy in the market, even at the farmers' market.

Limiting the quantity of our avocados in order to assure quality is an example of nature's wisdom.

We humans have invented all kinds of ways to foil nature and its natural killer instinct. We try to trick it, to prevent it from limiting the numbers of its creations that it permits to survive. But nature is much smarter than we are.

We love our children and our babies and we want each of them to live. But, by interfering with the nature's processes, we are overpopulating the earth, demanding too much of its limited resources. If we don't find a way to limit the numbers of our species, nature will. That is nature's way. Birth control and the morning after pill do not contravene nature. They imitate it.

February 24, 2012

He probably was truly caring and loving and devoted to her.

Feelings can be complicated, and people do impulsive things that they later regret.

I gave money to Edwards too, and I was furious because I also campaigned and put my integrity on the line to support him. But having seen what the Obama administration has done -- the signing of the NDAA, no public option and sitting down to negotiate with insurance companies, not prioritizing the passage of an amendment to end limitless corporate campaign involvement, continued eavesdropping on Americans, the appointment of bankers to manage the economy, the lack of support for labor unions, the campaign against teachers, etc., I am grateful that Edwards at least brought some more liberal points of view to our primaries in 2008 regardless of his personal life, regardless of whether he really planned to be elected. At least I feel that someone, sincere or not, voiced my view on a lot of issues.

Edwards, for all his human weakness, made sure that the progressive view was not completely laughed at or ignored. I like Kucinich, but the press does not take him seriously. They laugh at him. I don't expect that the press will wise up about Kucinich. He also is a good man.

Please note. The press and the FEC do not descend upon conservative politicians or "moderate Democrats" to destroy them by scandal, innuendo or ridicule the way they do progressive or very liberal candidates. That is not an accident.

I see this terrible trend. No matter who the liberal candidate or the liberal spokesperson is, the right wing and the so-called "moderates" will destroy that person. I remember when Schroeder was destroyed simply because she cried. We heard endlessly about how weak women are. That is what Edwards faced -- a campaign to destroy the reputation and respect and trust of any person who dares to tell the American people the truth or present another, more progressive/liberal point of view.

There are a lot of politicians who are leading double love-lives right now. You will never hear about them unless they cross up the 1%.

February 20, 2012

One-world plutocracy and privatization

I had a discussion with someone on DU the other day about world trade and in particular the roles of the international courts in replacing and superseding local laws and national laws.

Now, this first part sounds like some crazy, right-wing theory that we progressives and liberals like to laugh at. And I must admit that I have laughed about some of the theories associated with these ideas from time to time. But, bear with me, please.

Obviously, in "democracies" like our own, local and national laws are decided by locally and nationally elected representatives through some sort of democratic process, however flawed.

Not so the judges sitting on international courts like the NAFTA court. They are appointed, yes, hopefully by individuals elected by representatives or members of national governments. But can you personally name one judge sitting on an international court? Thought not. Neither can I. Nor do I know how much money passed hands, how many lobbyists weighed in, how much influence was used when these judges and others who run international organizations were selected. We have to ask who does know how that these people were chosen?

Yet, those judges can require your government to set aside a regulation or law that your democratically elected representatives passed at some level if it is deemed to result in some unfair trade practice such as dumping or protectionism. They have supra-national powers not derived from the people.

These courts combined with free trade agreements that weaken labor and environmental movements push us further and further toward international government that is selected and controlled by the major international corporations and the plutocracy that controls and profits from them. (That's the part the right-wing has been obsessing over for years in kind of nonsensical terms.)

But what about our national governments. Aren't they brakes on the process of global government by the plutocracy?

Here is where PRIVATIZATION fits into the picture (and where we liberals and progressives begin to object instinctively to what is happening).

Increasingly, our government (at all levels) is selling its functions to private corporations. We have private arbitration courts -- much cheaper and more efficient, we are assured, than courts of law with public trials. Courts in which procedures and rules of evidence that are established in laws passed by democratically elected bodies are followed with opportunities for appeals take too long.

In some states, even the highways and parking meters are being sold to public-private cooperative entities. Privatization among other things, permits foreign shareholders to own strategically vital parts of our American infrastructure.

Many community hospitals were privatized during the 1990s. Now we are seeing the privatization of schools.

Water is now in the purview of wealthy corporations. Imagine having to pay private companies just to get water to drink.

Privatization weakens and in some cases deprives we the people of the right to oversee these heretofore public functions.

Paying taxes to maintain traditionally public functions is increasingly viewed as an unbearable burden even when paying private companies to perform the same function -- say delivering packages of mail -- may cost three times as much as the government charges. So privatization is viewed as a way to replace having to pay taxes even though we would often be better off as individuals paying taxes than paying corporate profits.

Once the privatization occurs, it is hard for the government and local control to take back the privatized function.

And each time that another government function is privatized, our government, our democratically elected government and the democratic processes that support it, are weakened. As a result, we, the people have less and less say over how we live our lives and the price we have to pay to stay alive.

And all we hear from the private sector is how much they resent the regulations. No wonder they hate regulation. The regulations are imposed by democratically elected officials and the regulatory agencies that the democratically elected officials appoint. And, horrors, the regulatory agencies make the regulations through procedures that are transparent to the public.

I invite critical remarks (although I will answer them), but I think I have come across the kernel of something very important.

International corporations have grown to be more powerful than many governments.
Trade agreements deprive us of the ability to control democratically our own environment and economy.
Privatization threatens to deprive local and national governments of their authority and the financial capacity to govern or provide for the defense of the people living in the nation.

What is happening I am beginning to think is the destruction of the concept of the nation-state.

This might be acceptable except that the institutions that are replacing the nation-state are imposed on us by some sort of anonymous apparatus with only a slight relationship to democratic processes. Yet these international organizations like the World Bank, the IMF, the NAFTA Court, and similar entities have the capacity to impose upon nations of people including potentially ourselves, dictatorships and laws we do not want. These institutions have the capacity to completely destroy even the semblance of democracy. We are seeing how the European economic union has displaced the democratically elected government of Greece.

What do you think?

February 11, 2012

"How can we find a legitimately funny conservative person?" he wondered.

To answer that a bit. I know a number of comedians and comedy writers. Most (but not all) of them are Jewish or at least half-Jewish. Most of them really suffered when they were kids -- from bullies who were bigger and meaner than they were. Most of them are realistic. Most of them are Democrats.

A lot of the comedians and comic writers I know are realistic to the point of depression. Without exception, they are extremely intelligent. Humor is the way they cope with life. Jokes can disarm strangers and make communication easier. Comedians use them to bridge the gap between their own great intelligence and the limited understanding of others.

The comedians I know laugh at themselves even more than they laugh at others. They ridicule themselves first, and only after they finish roasting themselves do they start on others.

In fact, not all of them, but most of the comedians I know or have known are or were, beneath the facade, extraordinarily compassionate people. They may never admit it, but they are. They don't need to be told to walk in someone else's shoes for a day. The minute they meet you, they are trying on your shoes. That's where the jokes come from -- wearing other people's too big or too small shoes.

Do you know any Republicans with those personality traits? Neither do I.

While I am at it, fundamentalist Christianity is, in my opinion, completely incompatible with a really healthy sense of humor.

I was raised by true Christians. They could be very humble and very funny. We laughed a lot. And lots of Christians, even fundamentalist Christians, can tell stories and jokes effectively.

But generally, fundamentalists take themselves and their beliefs too seriously to achieve the necessary distance or irony to be capable of writing a really belly-aching joke about much of anything.

So, Republicans should just give up the quest for a good comedian and accept themselves for the boring bullies they are. Actually, that would be a starting point for a Republican comedian -- writing jokes about what boring bullies Republicans are.

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