Happy Easter and Vote for Me

Come unto me all ye who travail and are heavy laden, and I'll relieve you of the weight of all that money.

Happy Easter and Vote for Me
John 11:35. “Jesus wept.”

As I am writing this on an Easter afternoon, let me wish all a belated Happy Easter. And let me state for the record that I am a believer who wishes only the best for those who share or disagree with my faith. Or, for that matter, have a different one or none at all. There is a passage in the Book of Acts...

Then Peter opened his mouth and said, “In truth, I perceive that God is no respecter of persons,  but in every nation he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness is accepted by Him."

I have always found that comforting since Peter was a Jew who was a follower of Christ, but to him, no one who was not a part of either faith was unwelcome, as long as they work for righteousness. It was comforting because as a child, I wondered about all those folks who were either raised in a different faith, or none at all but were just, plain good people. Surely that was noticed by God? This passage always seemed to answer that, for me at least.

There is another one from the same book I would mention to my Republican friends concerning what the early Christian community was like...

"They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles.  All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need." 

Dadgum hippies! Seriously though, the closest modern example I can think of are the Kibbutzim in Israel. Though not as overtly socialist as in the early days, they are close to this communal ideal. The word itself means "gathering" in Hebrew. Kibbutzim are a communal living situation unique to Israel. There are about 270 kibbutzim dotted across the country.

At their heart, kibbutzim are small towns — typically with somewhere between 100 and 1,000 residents — historically centered around collective farms. In recent decades, some have come to thrive on modern industry and tourism.

During my second trip to Israel and Jordan, I spent a couple of days in a kibbutz named Kfar Blum, in the northernmost corner of Israel between the borders with both Syria and Lebanon. I was reporting for KPRC radio in Houston and at the time I was there, was suffering from an almighty awful cold. I had a 3 hour radio show to do over phone lines and didn't think I could make it.

Yummy Jewish Chicken Soup in 5 Easy Steps - EzyRecipe
Highly recommended for any broadcaster.

At the risk of falling into cultural stereotypes, our hostess for the night made me the most incredible chicken soup imaginable. This Jewish penicillin got me through the broadcast, and allowed me to file stories with a TV station I was also working with. I hate old fashioned tropes like this, but I will testify under oath in any court of law as to its restorative properties.

This kibbutz was pretty much like the old days, with a central small factory that manufactured toys and provided work and income for many of the residents. There was also farming, hence the chickens, and some had jobs in nearby cities. The man who was my guide explained that no one was in need, and no one went hungry no matter what circumstance befell them. Money for college for those young people who chose to go, was provided by the community.

My guide at Kfar Blum. I don't look as sick as I feel.

So, I guess the point of my meanderings here is that there are folks who have clung to the old, and admittedly somewhat socialist, way of communal life. I'm not necessarily recommending it as I like money too much, but it was a fascinating glimpse of a modern version of an ancient biblical society. This was back in 1993, so I don't know if much has changed. These were pretty politically moderate folks who got along fine with their Arab neighbors, though some of those opinions may have hardened over the years.

And this stream of consciousness babbling is a product of what ran through my head as I survey our world this Easter morning. Firstly, regarding Israel and the ongoing war in Gaza. And at this point, it's hard to describe it as a true war. The initial response to a vicious, bloodthirsty and frankly bestial attack on October 7th was certainly more that justified, and HAMAS is an evil that needs to be removed. But we are now 30,000 dead into this thing, and mass starvation is imminent, according to observers.

One expects segments of the public for whom Israel can do no right, or wrong, to have predictable responses. But some still at my advanced age, astonish.

Tim Walberg - Wikipedia
Mortimer Snerd (Character) - Comic Vine
OK, not saying there's a resemblance, but...

Republican Rep. Tim Walberg called for the U.S. to treat Gaza “like Nagasaki and Hiroshima” in comments caught on video at a recent constituent event in Dundee, Michigan. Walberg also apparently can't believe we are trying to get humanitarian supplies to trapped Palestinians in the strip, and that it should stop. Surely no explanation of the consequences of nuclear weapons is necessary, well, maybe except for Tim. But I am left to wonder, why does this kind of rhetoric work for people?

We don't expect any disagreement from DJT as long as TikTok billionaire Jeff Yass keeps coming to his rescue. I told you about Jeff a couple of weeks ago...

Ignore the Man Behind the Curtain | Texas Outlaw Writers
In terms of issues on America’s plate, there is more than Ukraine and Gaza to worry about. And Yass is just one of the many who have amassed a ton of cash and aren’t afraid to spend it. In Texas, Three West Texas billionaires have quietly taken over Republican politics in the state.

He is the best friend of Governor Ironside here in Texas by dint of $6 million in political donations to support getting school vouchers onto the books. A visit with the anti-TikTok Trump at Mar A Lardo turned Donald around on the subject.

Jeff Yass
"Nice campaign you have going here. Be a shame if..."

Yass owns the shell company that just merged with Trump's "Truth Social" Twitter competitor that was hemorrhaging money. It will make the candidate a paper billionaire when he sells out, and leaves all his cult investors high and dry down the road. Yass is also a big supporter of Benjamin Netanyahu so don't expect a peep out of Trump on starving Gazans.

Likewise, no justification for helping Ukraine is enough to sway the Putin wing of the GOP these days. The same folks who support any amount of military aid to Israel as they steamroller over the Gaza Strip cannot muster any sympathy for a democracy in the fight of its life against Stalin-Lite and his army of reluctant conscripts. Our last military aid of any consequence was sent 6 months ago and though most Americans, and most in Congress, including Republicans, support helping Ukraine, there is a determined minority of Luddites who do not.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, even the nominee of the party for President couldn't bring himself to condemn Vlad for murdering his chief critic Victor Navalny. And the bootlicking continues apace. Professor Timothy Snyder outlined the latest...

 On Friday 22 March four men associated with Islamic State attacked civilians in a concert venue near Moscow known as Crocus City Hall.  Islamic State (IS-K) claimed responsibility for the horrifying mass murder, and released videos recorded the terrorists' perspective (don't watch them).  Russia has since apprehended four men, who seem to be the perpetrators

Russia has been engaged with Islamic State for some time.  Russia has been bombing Syria since 2015.  Russia and the Islamic State compete throughout Africa for resources.  All four of the accused are Tadjiks, a people subjected to discrimination inside Russia.

And yet, predictably, Putin has tried to connect this act by radical Islamists to Ukraine. It is noteworthy that the GOP nominee hasn't commented on this lame pretzelian (not a real word but should be) logic. But at least one candidate has.

Joe Kent, a candidate for Congress in Washington state said this last week...

“If the Ukrainians were using CIA or [British intelligence agency] MI6 money, which they have a lot of access to, and they were tasked with conducting sabotage behind Russian lines, I mean, this is too easy. You can get access to these jihadis because they’re looking to work for the highest bidder, so it does kind of make sense”.

Republican Joe Kent announced his intention to vie for Washington's 3rd Congressional District seat, currently held by Democrat Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, in 2024.
Future Order of Lenin recipient.

It does appear at this writing, that Speaker Johnson will bring a Ukraine aid bill to the floor when Congress returns from recess. It may well cost him his job if said Luddites, looking at you Marjorie (R-Pimlico), can get him removed in time to announce it on Steve Bannon's podcast before he goes to jail. I mentioned in an earlier piece that whatever my disagreements with Johnson, and they are many, he seems almost responsible by comparison, and here is his next test.

As to the candidates, here is President Biden's Easter message...

“Jill and I send our warmest wishes to Christians around the world celebrating Easter Sunday. Easter reminds us of the power of hope and the promise of Christ’s Resurrection. 

As we gather with loved ones, we remember Jesus’s sacrifice. We pray for one another and cherish the blessing of the dawn of new possibilities. And with wars and conflict taking a toll on innocent lives around the world, we renew our commitment to work for peace, security, and dignity for all people.”

To be absolutely fair, he also incurred the wrath of conservative and even moderate Christians by issuing a proclamation acknowledging what is called the "Transgender Day of Visibility." And I'm going to come across as very politically incorrect here so my liberal friends will have to gird their loins, but the day fell on Sunday this year, Easter Sunday for heaven's sake, and frankly making a deal of it was politically dumb. Sorry folks, but the trans community is .01% of the population and as James Carville would tell you, pissing off a big chunk of all the rest is not wise.

You don't have to be a member of Joel Osteen's church and monetary printing press to find it a little off-putting.

I mentioned last week the Republicans who would rather go down to defeat with flags flying. There are a percentage of Democrats who share that impulse. And those folks will now demand I hand over any liberal inclinations I ever possessed. Fair enough, I guess.

But on the other side of the Easter ledger, Donald Trump was very busy on Easter morning on frantic social media bender — posting and re-posting grievances to his Truth Social account dozens and dozens of times.

Before 12 noon ET, the former president had populated his account with 43 additional “Truths” and “Re-Truths.” In keeping with Trump’s “Jesus” allegory and his Bible sales, he retweeted a story titled aptly enough for Easter, “The Crucifixion of Donald Trump.”

Then there's this post...

Trump shared an image of President Biden hog-tied to Truth Social. Here's  what it means for America and democracy

I'm thinking back to the most contentious presidential campaigns of my lifetime, which sad to say, goes back to 1949, and I can't seem to conjure up an image like this. It's honestly hard to picture JFK, Goldwater, LBJ, Nixon, Reagan, Carter, either of the Bushes or any of them resorting to this kind of childish and insulting nonsense.

It says a lot about Trump, but sadly, more about us.

Roger Gray has toiled at the journalism trade since 1970 and his first radio news job at KTRH in Houston. Over those woefully misspent years, he has worked in radio, TV and written for magazines. He was twice elected President of the Texas Automobile Writers Association and was elected to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame. He covered the first Persian Gulf War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, Oslo Accords in Israel and peace talks in Ireland. He interviewed writers, actors, politicians and every President from Ford to George W, and none of them remember him.Now, he is part of the Texas Outlaw Writers, and if this doesn't pan out, the outlaw part will still work as he will indeed resort to robbing banks.