May 22, 2024

Trump Has the Reich Stuff

By Glenn

The Trump campaign propelled discussions of NAZIs into the news again.  It released a video with a fake newspaper reporting a fictional Trump landslide and the future “creation of a unified Reich.” Overtly mimicking NAZI language is essential to Donald Trump’s appeal. Many Americans don’t want to face this reality.

What then is a NAZI?  You need to look no farther than the words of Adolf Hitler.  Hitler created the National Socialist Party and explained its platform in Mein Kampf (My Struggle, 1923). He wrote Mein Kampf in prison after he was convicted of leading a failed coup against the Weimar Republic.

Hitler designed National Socialism to destroy the Weimar Republic.  The Weimar Republic was a representative, parliamentary democracy.  It rose from the ashes of World War One. 

The Second German Empire (Deutsches Reich) had committed suicide by joining Austria’s war against Serbia in 1914.  The Reich found itself trapped between Russia and France. The Reich army collapsed under the weight of total war, and the Emperor (Kaiser) fled to the Netherlands.

In 1919 German parliamentary leaders were left to pick up the pieces and created a new constitution for a defeated Germany.  The new constitution rested on multiparty elections, freedom of speech/press, and religious toleration.  Feminists also gained rights for women to vote, earn money outside the home, and overall legal equality with men.

Hitler hated the Weimar Republic.  His NAZI party sought to restore the traditional German Reich, a Third Reich.  Restoration required National Socialism.  Hitler’s “socialism”, however, had little in common with the Marxist idea of public ownership of resources, production, and distribution.  In fact, Hitler blamed the Marxists and the Socialists for the collapse of the Empire in the First World War.

Hitler redefined “socialism” by combining it with “nationalism”.  His definition is pretty simple to understand.  It had nothing to do with economics and everything to do with racial purity.  

“National-Socialists, there is only one doctrine: PEOPLE AND FATHERLAND.  What we have to fight for is the necessary security for the existence and increase of our race and people, the subsistence of its children and the maintenance of our racial stock unmixed, the freedom and independence of the Fatherland; so that our people may be enabled to fulfil the mission assigned to it by the Creator.”

Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1923

Donald Trump’s lies about immigration tap directly into this NAZI rhetoric.  Trump’s language is the Reich Stuff.

“They let — I think the real number is 15, 16 million people into our country. When they do that, we got a lot of work to do. They’re poisoning the blood of our country…That’s what they’ve done. They poison mental institutions and prisons all over the world, not just in South America, not just to three or four countries that we think about, but all over the world. They’re coming into our country from Africa, from Asia, all over the world.”

Donald Trump, December 2023

Trump, like Hitler, hates democratic institutions.  He hates multiparty elections.  He hates freedom of speech. He hates a multiethnic, free America.  Trump scapegoats immigrants.  Trump wants your permission to turn back the clock just like Hitler turned back the clock.  Will you let him?

March 31, 2024

When is Easter?

By Glenn
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Easter is a festival rooted in the Gospels and Exodus. In the Gospels, the Romans execute Jesus during the Jewish Passover feast. The Greek name is Paschal feast. The German word is Easter. 

Exodus tells the Jews to celebrate the night the Angel of death “passed over” the Hebrew houses smeared with the blood of new born lambs. This was the last of the plagues and convinced the Pharaoh to liberate the Hebrews from slavery.

Since the Jews follow a lunar calendar, their year does not follow a regular patter like the Julian/Gregorian calendar. The Julian/Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar and more regular except for leap years. Muslims also use a lunar calendar. That is why Ramadan moves too.

The Jewish year begins with the first new moon after the Vernal equinox. Astrologers used to carefully watch and predict this celestial event. Sundown on that night begins the day of Nissan. It does not happen on the same day every year. It can be almost a month off. 

Exodus requires an annual sacrificial lamb on the 14th of Nissan. That night Hebrews share a Seder meal and reflect on captivity and liberation. Three of the Gospels say that Jesus shared a Seder, broke bread and was betrayed. The next day the Romans hung him.

The fourth, and “youngest”, Gospel claims that Jesus was crucified on the 14th of Nissan, or the day of sacrificial lambs. This is a profound theological statement. 

Jesus is the pascal lamb. He defeated death, not for a night, but for eternity. 

The Catholic Church set the celebration of Easter as the first Sunday the Spring Equinox. After the Roman and Greek Orthodox Churches split, the Greek Orthodox Church refused to recognize Pope Gregory’s updated calendar and the days of the two calendar’s don’t line up anymore. They don’t have the same “Sundays”. For both Churches, it s a moveable feast. 

Bonus: The Church in Jerusalem also created celebrations for Holy Week. These rituals follow the last week of Jesus. There are specific sites associated with these event.

March 24, 2024

Shrimp Tacos

By Glenn
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Food

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Mixed about 1 1/2 cups plain Greek Yogurt

table spoon cumin

1 table spoon chili powder

1 table spoon garlic powder

1 table spoon paprika

1/2 table spoon chipotle powder

1/2 table spoon salt

1/4 table spoon cayenne

1 table spoon agave “gel”?

This was all late in the day. I put the shrimp in a zip lock for about 1 1/2 hrs

Grilled about 6 mins each side. high heat. .

I call it Indian/Cajun/Tex-Mex fusion 

January 7, 2024

Civil War and Reconstruction

By Glenn

It seems there is a fundamental lack of knowledge about the American Civil War and Reconstruction.

*Why did the relationship breakdown? Slave owners wanted the right to EXPAND slavery. US voters elected Lincoln because he promised to stop the EXPANSION of slavery.

*Why did most of the Slave states attack the USA? They were the loser in the election, and they feared Lincoln would take away their heritage. White believed Lincoln and the Federal government would discriminate against them. They fought to preserve white supremacy. The slave owners designed the to protect white supremacy and slavery.

*What was the result of the Civil War? The USA strengthened the Union and diminished the power of state governments. To enter the Union, states that participated in the the insurrection had to A) give up race based slavery B) allow all men, including slaves, the same voting rights C) treat all persons born in the USA as a citizen with equal rights and due process D) bar insurrectionists from public office.

Feel free to watch a series of my lectures on the Civil War and Reconstruction. After watching, feel free enter a conversation.


https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQmKIT8SNRRZkgKuK0k4ChvTrCxkmNRiN&si=yk6ahU2yu_GJ-Sew

January 5, 2024

Trust

By Glenn

One of the big questions about “faith” is the modern use of the word.  It has come to mean, especially in the Non-Darwinian states, “belief”.  These Bible Belt Christians will whip you with the Bible and proclaim their own salvation because they believe Jesus is their personal Lord and Savior. 

One of my favorite songs is Amazing Grace. It is beautiful and moving, but it also helps spread confusion about theological words.

It begins with “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me!” Grace saves, but what is Grace.  The word come from the French word “mercy.”  God is kind and merciful.

The second verse takes it into a slightly different direction.  “’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved; how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed!”  Here we have two new paths to salvation: fear and belief.  If you believe, grace will relieve your fear.

This emphasis in belief entered the Christian debate early.  At the Council of Nicaea, the Roman Emperor Constantine wanted to use Christianity as a political force.  He couldn’t use them if the Christian communities argued about beliefs. 

Constantine called Christians together at Nicaea, and the leaders of the “Catholic”, or universal, church agreed on a creed.  The English word comes from the first word of the Latin document: “credo”.  It began with “I believe in one God…” and then introduced a whole heavenly host of complicated theological concepts.

Accepting the creed was the first step to entry into the Church and path of salvation.  If we fast forward to the Twentieth Century, American evangelicals shortened this creed to “I believe Jesus is my personal Lord and Savior.”

The “faith” of the scripture, on the other hand, means “trust.”  God told Abraham to leave Ur, and Abraham trusted God that it would turn out better.  This life would be materially better not only for him, but his family and his descendants.

Jesus came from this “trust” tradition.  He emphasized a radically different part of that tradition. Following in the footsteps of Amos, Jeremiah, and Isiah, Jesus preached that God heard the cry of the poor, the sick and the stranger.

The Jesus of the Gospels emphasized the trust commandments and asked his followers to self-sacrifice.  If Christians sacrifice themselves, their lives will be better.  This is the mystery of the cross.  Feed the Hungry.  Cloth the naked. Be kind to the stranger and immigrant.  Love your enemy.

El Greco, Disrobing of Christ, Year 1577–1579

Your life might not get better immediately.  In fact, you may suffer more in the short run.  Christianity is NOT a prosperity message. Trust leads to a better eternal life.  There is no way to prove what happens after death.  You simply must trust. Love you neighbor.

December 1, 2023

Kissinger Paid for Nixon’s Reelection

By Glenn

Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon, like W Bush and Dick Cheney, lied about wars. They all threw American lives away to advance their political careers. They were deplorable before it wore a Red Hat.

Nixon and Kissinger conspired to prolong the war in Vietnam War. Their reason? Win an election. They traded American and Vietnamese lives to win an election.

November 23, 2023

Kartoffelklöße

By Glenn
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Food

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Alexandre’s Goulash in Vienna 2010
November 11, 2023

Cost of Veteran’s Day

By Glenn
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Veterans

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Western Europe hasn’t seen a war between states in 78 years. The United States hasn’t seen a war between states in 158 years. Peace is possible once politicians and people stop trying to control each other, stop trying to steal from each other and stop trying to cheat each other.

Liberty and Justice for all, not guns, create peace. Millions in Europe had to die to accept this lesson. Can’t we just learn from the dead? Your duck god and my chicken god might need to live off of our blood, or your duck flag and my chicken flag might demand a fresh grave, but Justice and Liberty allow us to Live, not rest, in Peace.

Please remember when you vote, you either Live with Liberty and Justice, or you die with control and bigotry. We can have a happy veterans day when there are no longer families grieving their dead relatives. Until then, we should allow remember what it costs to be a veteran.

Tranchée Des Baïonnettes

October 13, 2023

Elections Have Consequences

By Glenn

As we wake up to another day of chaos and unwillingness to compromise, it might be helpful to remember that elections have consequences.  Elections are not a game.  Elections are not about teams.  Elections are about the future you want for yourself, your children, and your neighbor.

In 2006 the voters in the Gaza Strip voted for a theocracy at home and perpetual war against Israel.  Hamas told their voters that they would neither compromise with other Muslims nor compromise with Christians and Jews.

Hamas wanted a society built on their understanding of God’s law.  God’s law required them to destroy Israel.  God’s law required women to stay at home, produce children and convince boys to die in the perpetual war.

This ideology looks a lot like European fascism.  While it is using a language of liberation, it is not offering others freedom.  Hamas is not willing to let others make choices.   Hamas asked its voters for the power to build a militant theocracy and the majority of voters in Gaza gave it to them.

Once elected, Hamas did what other fascists did before them.  They shut down internal dissent.  They eliminated other Palestinian voices and told their people that perpetual war was the only option until Israel no longer exists.

Hamas does not represent all the Palestinians.  Israel made peace with the elected leaders of the Palestinians on the Westbank.  Is it a perfect peace? No.  Does Israel always treat Palestinians with justice? No.  Should Israel stop new Settlements? Yes. The issue today, however, is Hamas’ war.

Hamas represents Gaza.  Hamas chose war.  Hamas started a war by crossing the border and killing unarmed men, women, and children as well as soldiers. Gazans are paying the price for their votes.

Hamas lost the battle it launched.  Hamas was driven back.  On the way back, Hamas took hostages into Gaza.  Hamas did not view the defeat as a loss but as another fight in their perpetual war.  Hamas continues to send rockets into Israeli cities.

Israel is now fighting back.  The death, destruction, and loss of innocent life is horrible.  Gaza is starting to look like Atlanta in 1864 and Dresden in 1945.  When a people elect a pro-war, militant government with uncompromising politicians, the results are devastating.

Hamas choose to build its military infrastructure under innocent people.  It built its rocket factories under women and children.  Hamas stores it weapons under women and children.  The civilian devastation is the direct result of choices Hamas and its voters made long ago.

Hamas could end this today by surrendering and asking for peace.  Hamas will not.  This war, like wars before it, will come to an end.  Thousands will die. Men will die. Women will die.  Children will die. We know this, because fascists always glorify a violent struggle.

The only question left is how quickly this war will end.  This is the war Gaza voters wanted.  They voted for it.  They prayed for it.  How many more must die for it?  

May 18, 2023

Conservative Ideology Is A Debt Problem

By Glenn

For the first hundred years of American history, there was one cause of public debt: war.  The United States of America started in debt, and it paid its bills.  There wasn’t another spike in debt to Gross Domestic Product ratio until the American Civil War.

At this point, you might ask what is the debt to GDP ratio?  It is the amount of our public debt compared to the size of our economy.  That ratio is the number that economists care about. 

It is not hard to understand.  Your bank will lend you more money if they know you have a high income and high long-term earning potential.  The bank will lend you less money at a higher interest rate if they know you have a low-income and low long-term potential. 

During the American Revolutionary War, the Civil War and WWI, US debt rose to about 35% to 45% of annual GDP.  The Fourteenth Amendment is clear that Congress has a duty to pay the debts: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

When Congress passes a budget, it authorizes the President to incur debt to pay bills beyond the amount collected from taxes.  A 1917 law theoretically places a limit on how much debt the US government can borrow. 

That law has never been tested in court. Every time the USA has approached that limit Congress has always voted to pay its bills.  For this reason, investors worldwide consider US public debt as one of the safest investments in the world. 

During the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt convinced Congress to take on more debt for public works projects like schools, airports, dams, and bridges.  Conservatives cried in frustration.  They had already failed to end skyrocketing joblessness by trying to balance the budget. 

FDR’s New Deal put America in a good position heading into the Second World War.  The economy was on the right track and became the Arsenal for Democracy.  American factories used borrowed money to manufacture the tanks, planes and ships needed to beat back tyranny.

When the war ended, neither Democrats nor Republicans wanted to return to the failed economic policies that lead to, and prolonged, the Great Depression.  America taxed the wealthiest citizens and rewarded wage earners.  A strong economy produced more taxes that paid down the debt from the Great Depression and the War. The debt to GDP ratio fell from 115% to 35%.

Not until the 1980s did a third cause of debt emerge in American history. Ronald Reagan led a conservative revolution to reverse the previous fifty years of taxing the rich to pay for government services.  He cut taxes for the rich and services for everyone else.  Reagan’s deficits drove the national debt to GDP ratio up from 35% to 45%. 

The lessons from this history are clear.  Use diplomacy and alliances to reduce unnecessary wars. Effectively regulate financial markets to stop them from burning the economy down. Ignore conservative politicians who claim tax cuts and deregulation will balance the budget.