Adventus

"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"...doesn't philosophy amount to the sum of all thinkable and unthinkable errors, ceaselessly repeated?"--Jean-Luc Marion

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Thursday, July 09, 2020

I'm Old Enough to Remember


when the internet was full of annoying trolls who seemed to get away with being as obnoxious as they wanted to be.

Now that they've carried that behavior over into the real world, actions have consequences again.

Took us a long time to realize nothing you say or put on-line is private, and it's forever (including baby pictures, etc.  I'd never have done that to my kid).  How long is it gonna be before we realize everybody and his dog has a video camera and anything stupid we do is gonna end up going viral?

This, too, we will regret; but for the moment, enjoy the small sense of righteousness.

Cornyn Goes Full Ted Cruz


Shit, he really is in trouble, isn't he?  And his opponent hasn't even been selected yet, and they're both pretty much unknowns. Smart money said as recently as March that challengers had no chance against Cornyn.  Huh.

(to explain the title, Cruz included references to "Agenda 21" on his campaign website when he first ran in 2012.  He was a full-blown crackpot  who at least had enough sense to scrub that stuff from his website after he was elected, and never bring it up again.  He's like Trump, he knows how to fleece the rubes.  And now Cornyn wants some of that action.  He might first consider how well it's serving Abbott, though.)

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Before We End the School Day (Isn't that what this has been at Chez Adventus?)

I know I've used this once today; but I really want to emphasize context here.
And to say again this call will be made at the local level, where democratic government is supposed to work best because it is supposed to be most responsive to the people the closer it is to the people.

But I guess that only matters when a Democrat's in the White House.  Although I can't imagine a Democrat being as insistent on this issue, knowing he/she has no power whatsoever over the decisions that must be made in 50 states and perhaps many more jurisdictions (Texas has 1227 independent school districts.  None of them are looking to Trump or DeVos for guidance.   Honestly, "administration" is what this White House is supposed to do!  And nobody there has the first clue how to do it.)

Even Sweden?


I don't know if, or when, Sweden modified their "let's rely on herd immunity!" policy, but I have a memory that they did at some point.  And still, they only have 57 new cases?

What the F**#@! are we doing wrong?

The Country Changed


The approved political narrative didn't.  In fact, it's still catching up.

Trump and the GOP that still supports him are not our only national political problem.

It's A Little Premature


...to enjoy the thought of this, but I do.

Obviously I back Mayor Turner's stance.  I didn't expect him to come around to this, though it would have been my first thought if I were in his position. The state GOP is so far offering nothing but bluster:

Party Chair James Dickey responded later Wednesday, criticizing Turner for "seeking to deny a political Party's critical electoral function" after the mayor recently allowed protesters to demonstrate there "without any of the safety precautions and measures we have taken."

Dickey also said the party's legal team was assessing the city's ability to cancel the convention and weighing its legal options.

"We are prepared to take all necessary steps to proceed in the peaceable exercise of our constitutionally protected rights," Dickey said in a statement.

There are no constitutional issues at all, here.  The city has an absolute right to prohibit the peaceful assembly of people when there are public health grounds to do so.  The GOP is not being denied the right to hold its convention; they're just being told they can't hold it in the George R. Brown convention center in Houston, Texas.  The City of Houston has good and defensible reasons for banning such a gathering (public health of all persons involved, especially hotel and convention center staff and employees), and I'm sure they can find some reasons to void the contract without putting the convention center into a breach of contract posture.

Or rather, in a defensible breach of contract posture.

For some reason the state GOP has determined this is the hill they want to die on, even as none of the GOP elected officials in the state want to be there.  It's a puzzlement to me, but I hope Mayor Turner finds his grounds and makes his move.  We have a goddamned crisis in this city, and all the GOP wants to do is to pour kerosene on the fire.

OOPS!

If you read the tweet carefully, you saw the photo caption didn't match my commentary.  Seems the story's been updated:

The Republican Party of Texas' in-person convention next week has been canceled, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Wednesday.

The news came after Turner directed the city's legal department to work with the Houston First Corp., which operates the George R. Brown Convention Center, to review the contract with the state party.

Turner said officials with Houston First sent a letter this afternoon to the State Republican Executive Committee, the state party's governing board, canceling the gathering, which was set to happen July 16-18 and was expected to draw roughly 6,000 attendees.
I'd dance in the streets if I wasn't 65 and wearing cowboy boots.  And if I could dance.  Combine the three, and the men in the white coats would scoop me off the street before the Lovely Wife could yell at me to get back inside and quit acting such a damned fool.

Now whether there's enough room in there for the GOP to get an injunction is another question.  Certainly time, yet; but still, I admire the backbone of the Mayor.

The Antithesis of Christian Hospitality


The highest good in the earliest stories of Genesis are about hospitality.  When God comes to Abram at Mamre and tells him Sarai will have a son, it is Abram's hospitality that is the true center of the story.  He entertains God, but knows only that he is being hospitable to strangers.

"Hospitality is not about guests; it’s about strangers. That’s the first lesson."

Been down this road once or twice before.  I'lll leave this here, not to sit in judgment on this church and its members, but to use them to bring up this topic again.

I really should go back to work on that.

Adding:  (really wishing I could just comment.  Ah, well...)

Part of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, so very conservative (no women pastors, opposes all homosexual relations, won't be in communion with any denomination that theologically differs, etc.) I can't say I am shocked.
This (literally) explains everything.  I had a church in Bensenville (Chicago suburb; literally at the end of the O'Hare runway.  Don't get me started.  Local UCC church (not mine) had been there forever, Mayor Daley moved 'em out to build his airport.  They had a graveyard, which had to be left behind, and the City said they'd never disturb it.  I understand they later moved all the graves and paved over it; another runway.  Like I said...).  Anyway, my church was right next door to a MO Synod Lutheran church.  I understood the pastor there didn't want to have anything to do with the rest of us in town (pastors are pretty chummy, as a rule).  No one from there ever so much as crossed the lawn to visit me.  Granted, I was too busy to notice, and there less than a year (my pastoral career was not one to brag about).  Still, I soon came to understand WI Synod thought MO Synod was soft and heretical and far too worldly.  Given the friendliness of Lutherans I have known, this always struck me as bizarre.

But that this church is WI Synod explains everything.  We can still talk about hospitality, but now more than ever I won't sit in judgment of this church.  They're doing enough of that for all of us, IMHO.

Once Again: Not Her Call


I know Trump and the pundits in D.C. think what the White House Says MATTERS!

But absolutely nobody at the level of the school district or schoolroom is paying attention to what Betsy DeVos says.  Period.

She doesn't speak as loudly as the thunder outside my window yesterday from a passing summer storm.  I mistook the noise for a large truck, until I saw the rainfall.  DeVos is less notable.

And do they really imagine nobody wants to reopen the schools?

Or is this more parade-signaling?  As in, we can claim we led the country on this?  Because every state wants to open its schools in the fall.  The issue is:  how to do that safely.  The question is:  why does Trump imagine endangering children is good electoral politics?

They really can't run a two-car funeral procession, can they?

How Will We Know The Future?


If AP can't announce the results on Tuesday night in November?

I'm serious.  TeeVee talking heads are gonna plotz if they can't announce the new President before midnight.

Pretty Sure We're Turning into New York City


...on the Third Coast.

Trump Has the Undying Fealty of White Male Boat Owners!


All maybe 200 of them, from the looks of that video.  Maybe not that many.

This is the turnout from 11 states.  The Trump Campaign does know we vote for President by state, right?  Not by total population.  So this is a pretty pitiful turnout.

I thought the problem was Bubba Wallace not apologizing to NASCAR


Wow.  I really don't think this strategy:

is going to work out that well for Trump.

Call me "foolishly optimistic."  But I have been looking for this kind of change since I was, oh....15.

Slow train comin'....

[Insert joke about conspiracy to make us all Trump supporters here]

Lies, Damned Lies, and....


Donald Trump on Twitter.

Coronavirus deaths nationwide are down from the high of 2700 on May 6.  But they are up to 902 on July 7.  "Up" as in "rising."  Maybe he thinks deaths are down "tenfold" in New York City?  Because he seems to think that's the entire country, except for one NASCAR racetrack.

Oh, this is where he got it:

He's quoting the Washington Times quoting his own press secretary:

“The president is not downplaying the severity of the virus,” Ms. McEnany said at a press briefing. “What the president is noting is that at the height of this pandemic we were at 2,500 deaths per day. We are now at a place where on July 4 there were 254. That’s a tenfold decrease in mortality.”

Well, maybe it was down to 254 on July 4 (Narrator:  the number of cases on July 4 was reported to be 273), but it was up to 902 by July 7 (Google is your friend).  60 of those cases, or about 15%, were in Texas alone, a new record for one day in the state.  The national death toll is, sadly, rising.

 So, the President is downplaying the severity of the virus.

Believe me, at this point nobody in school administration gives a shit what you or the CDC have to say.  School administrators have been working since March trying to decide when and how to reopen.  Guidelines from the CDC barely enter into it at this point.  In Texas the TEA told schools to try to separate children's desks by 6 feet.  Maybe if they held on class in the school gym, and no where else, that could work.  Don't know what they do about the other students, but at least 30 could be socially distanced for the day.  The CDC guidelines are no better than that, and that Trump wants to weaken them proves Trump doesn't care a whit about school children.

That's the way to woo suburban women voters, Trump!

And after four years, does he still not understand how government funding works?

Assuming he could "cut off funding," any funding he could affect would be future funds, as current funds have already been allocated.  Again, a brilliant idea for campaigning for re-election, and a completely toothless threat if he isn't re-elected.  The funds he threatens could easily be reinstated by Biden, and nobody would notice the difference.

What color is the sky on his planet?

Back to School! Or not....

Texas announced 10,000 new cases of covid-19 yesterday.  And a record high of 60 new deaths.

Schools are set to open in mid-August.  The only advice from TEA to schools is to move desks six feet apart, if possible, and require students to wear masks as long as the Governor says so.

This is only going to get worse.

Kanye West IS Running for President!


Sure he is:

For much of the phone calls, his core message, strategically, was that he has 30 days to make a final decision about running for president. At that point, he says, he’d miss the filing deadline for most states, though he believes an argument could be made to get onto any ballots he’s missed, citing coronavirus issues. “I’m speaking with experts, I’m going to speak with Jared Kushner, the White House, with Biden,” says West. He has no campaign apparatus of any kind. His advisors right now, he says, are the two people who notably endorsed him on the Fourth: his wife Kim Kardashian-West, and Elon Musk, of whom he says, “We’ve been talking about this for years.” (Adds West: “I proposed to him to be the head of our space program.”)
His party affiliation?  A new one:  "The Birthday Party."  And why is he running?

“It’s when I was being offered the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Awards at MTV. I remember being at my mom’s house, my mother-in-law, because my house was being worked on, she calls me ‘son’ and I call her ‘mom,’ I was in the shower thinking, I write raps in the shower. It hit me to say, ‘you’re going to run for president’ and I started laughing hysterically, I was like this is the best, I'm going to go out there and they’re going to think I'm going to do these songs and do this for entertainment, how rigged awards shows are, and then say I’m president. And I just laughed in the shower, I don’t know for how long, but that’s the moment it hit me.”

And:

“I have to say with all humility that as a man, I don’t have all of the pieces in the puzzle. As I speak to you for what a political campaign—a political walk, as I told you, because I’m not running, I’m walking. I'm not running, we the people are walking. We’re not running anymore, we’re not running, we’re not excited—we are energized, Someone can say, ‘Hey, I got a brand new car for you, it’s across the street and you get so excited you run across the street and get hit by a car trying to run to your new car. That’s how they control the Black community, through emotions, they get us excited, we’re so excited, but then for 400 years the change doesn’t truly happen.

Also:

“God just gave me the clarity and said it’s time. You know I was out there, ended up in the hospital, people were calling me crazy. I'm not crazy. Between all of the influences and the positions that we can be put in as musicians—you go on tour, you put out all these albums, and you look up and you don’t have any money in your account. It can drive you crazy, through all of that I was looking crazy because it wasn’t the time. Now it’s time. And we’re not going crazy, we’re going Yeezy, it’s a whole ‘notha level now. N-O-T-H-A.

Oh, yeah, he's gonna be "Black Panther" and Wakanda the shit outta this country!

“A lot of Africans do not like the movie [Black Panther] and representation of themselves in…Wakanda. But I’m gonna use the framework of Wakanda right now because it’s the best explanation of what our design group is going to feel like in the White House…That is a positive idea: you got Kanye West, one of the most powerful humans—I’m not saying the most because you got a lot of alien level superpowers and it’s only collectively that we can set it free. Let’s get back to Wakanda… like in the movie in Wakanda when the king went to visit that lead scientist to have the shoes wrap around her shoes. Just the amount of innovation that can happen, the amount of innovation in medicine—like big pharma—we are going to work, innovate, together. This is not going to be some Nipsey Hussle being murdered, they’re doing a documentary, we have so many soldiers that die for our freedom, our freedom of information, that there is a cure for AIDS out there, there is going to be a mix of big pharma and holistic.”

Oh, and he has an idea for his campaign:

“Well my second album is called Late Registration. I got a rap … The other thing is, my campaign is Kanye West YES, not YEP, not YEAH. YES. YES. YES... When I’m president, let’s also have some fun. Let’s get past all the racism conversation, let’s empower people with 40 acres and a mule, let’s give some land, that’s the plan.”

Yes, he is crazy.  I can't even laugh at him.  This is sad.  The man needs treatment.

Governor Butterball


NPR reports this morning that the mayors of the largest cities in Texas expect their hospitals to be "overwhelmed" within 2 weeks.  Texas reported an increase of over 10,000 cases yesterday.  And Greg Abbott whinges that the mayors of those cities are not serving him well.

Abbott: So I have received what seemed to be kind of like a form letter, from a couple of mayors — one was the Austin mayor — and it seemed very similar to a letter I received from the Houston mayor and some other officials, primarily from the large cities across the state of Texas, that ask for additional shutdown measures and asking in the alternative to give them the authority to completely shut down and lock down their jurisdiction for a period of time.

And I find that frustrating in this sense, and that is, for most of these officials, no action whatsoever to enforce the executive orders that are in place. The reason why I emphasize that is these executive orders were established by doctors with the understanding that if they were complied with, it would reduce the spread of COVID0-19.

A quick example is, for many mayors, maybe all of them, I’m unfamiliar with any effort they ever undertook to shut down any bar where it was clear from just an eyeball view that there was a violation of the orders that are in place. But also, they are saying we need to reduce the capacity of restaurants, of retail centers and things like that. No mayor has sent me any information saying that there’s any type of spread of COVID-19 in any of those types of establishments or that they’ve taken any effort to close down those types of establishments.

Bottom line is, we need better, stronger enforcement. If the current rules are followed and applied, we will not have to shut Texas back down.

This is the same guy who said Houston (and other cities) couldn't enforce mask mandates, until he decided they could (see below; it's the difference between June and July).  Of course, they did enforce these rules; but they don't have the manpower to go to every bar in their town and shut them down, either.  That's technically the jurisdiction of Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission (TABC).  Police could only shut down a bar if a health inspector investigated and found violations of public health rules, and even then it's a civil action which would require investigation and civil, not criminal, action.  Civil action is not the police showing up, clearing the place, and arresting the owner.  Besides, Abbott set the standard when he imposed a closure order which was violated by a salon owner in the Dallas area, who was charged criminally and put in jail.  Dan Patrick went and paid her bail (from his campaign funds; Patrick's not generous with his money, just with other people's money) and Ted Cruz went there to get a haircut.  Abbott rapidly backed down from wanting to see people in jail, even as her case was dismissed because Abbott lifted the closure order and made it retroactive to get her released.

In fact, let's just put some of the historical record into this discussion:

Yes, that was less than a month ago. So he's not only been a tower of Jell-O on this issue, he's taken power away from localities when it pleased him politically to do so.  Blaming local officials for inaction now is just too rich.  Because nine days later:

Two days after that:

Pay attention to that rise in patient numbers.  It becomes important quickly.

By July 2, he had reversed course entirely:

Yesterday Texas reported 10,000 new cases.  And Abbott keeps blaming anybody but himself.

He also provides another example of Abbott imitating a profile in butter, not courage:

Question: We are hearing of mounting pressure on the Texas GOP to cancel next week’s in-person convention in downtown Houston. Do you support the party’s plan to move forward?

Abbott: I know that they continue to look at it and, you know, the facts that we see today contribute to that. As we may see in the coming days, as we get even closer to the convention, the reality is that there will be more people testing positive both in Texas as well as in Houston. There will be more hospitalizations in Houston and there will be more deaths.

So, I think that the party leaders that make the determination based on issues like this, they will continue to weigh all these facts and we’ll see how things progress. But, I know that they want to put public safety first. I know that they don’t want to compromise the health or safety of anybody. But, I also know at the same time, that they need to find ways in which to conduct the official business that must be conducted by the party.
Again, don't look to him for leadership or any responsibility in the matter.  He's just the Republican Governor of Texas, after all.  He's not responsible for anything.

Question: But if they ask you, Governor, will you tell them to move it to a virtual convention?

Abbott: I would ask that they take into consideration the health and safety of everybody who would be attending and make sure they conduct it — whether it be in-person or online — in a way that secures and protects the safety and health of everybody.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has said he'll have the Health Department shut down the convention in a heartbeat if they aren't following the requirements for public gatherings (masks, 6 feet distance, etc.)  The Greater Houston Partnership, a very powerful and influential Houston business group, is now asking the GOP to cancel the convention.  And the GOP has announced that none of the top GOP officials, party or state, will be at the convention.

The cherry on the sundae is this answer, in response to this question:

Question: The TEA says that based on your recent executive order, masks will be mandatory in school buildings. Would you like to end that order before school starts and if so, what will it take?

We will not have to shut it down if everyone will follow this very simple rule and that is, just get a mask like this, wear it, make sure that you don’t get COVID-19 and you don’t give it to anybody else.

One of those things, obviously, we can all do.  But the latter two?  Completely impossible.  Might as well count on Santa Claus bringing you a pony.  At least Gov. Abbott has denied any responsibility if you do get Covid-19 and give it to someone else.  He told you not to!

That man is utterly useless.

In Other News

Tucker Carlson is a pig.  He's doing this because he's losing advertisers.  All he has left is this.  It reminds me of a Buck Henry skit on SNL in the very early days, where he played a talk show radio host trying to get people to call in.  He starts off reasonably, and ends with calling for the murder of puppies and the eating of babies (if I recall correctly).  Still nobody calls.

That's Tucker Carlson.  All he cares is that you spell his name right.  I despise him, but at some point this is wrestling with a pig.  And getting Carlson the attention he can't get from his audience and advertisers.  He's trying to save his show.

Stop helping him.*

*How Sen. Duckworth responds is her legitimate business.    Everyone else needs to support her, and slice Carlson out of the picture the way FauxNoise cut Trump out of the Epstein/Maxwell photo.

Question O' The Day

It's Going Away!



10,028 cases were reported in Texas on July 7.  2715 people have died in Texas of the virus, which is 60 more than July 6, 291 more than one week ago.  9,286 are in the hospital with the virus, up 2,753 from a month ago.  Houston/Harris County has 37,776 cases, the most of any county in the state.  No wonder the GOP officials don't want to come for their convention, huh?  Must be a GOP thang:
Death rate is actually up in Texas. But anyway:

9 pages of claptrap


The Texas Education Agency speaks; and it drops a very large egg from a very great height.  Critics first:

After the final guidelines were announced, the teachers association said they don't go far enough. "Children younger than 10 will still be exempted from wearing masks in schools. Teachers of those children should be able to decide whether they want their students to wear masks," said Clay Robison, spokesperson for TSTA. "Teachers who fear they will compromise their health by returning to campus should have the choice of teaching remotely, and it doesn't look like TEA guidelines will require that."

And the Association of Texas Professional Educators released a statement criticizing the TEA for not providing "more explicit guidance" or including educators and parents in the decision-making process.

The guidance released Tuesday requires school employees to "meet the work expectations set by their employers" but does not include many specifics for at-risk teachers who may not feel safe going into schools.

I've actually been in TEA meetings; small ones, serving lunch to a handful of people (my neighbor was a caterer when I lived in Austin, I worked for her a few times.) The pomposity and utter contempt they had "behind closed doors" for school administrators and teachers was appalling.  My neighbor assured me that was perfectly normal.  Clearly that culture hasn't changed in 30 years. My local school district has convened meetings with all kinds of interest groups: teachers, parents, business owners, etc. The TEA speaks; we are supposed to listen. Listen to nine pages of claptrap.

The guidelines do give parents an out:

School districts must offer daily on-campus instruction for all students who want it, but any parent may request that their child be offered virtual instruction from any school district that offers it, under the guidelines issued by the Texas Education Agency.

But teachers, and other school employees?  Suck it up and take it. I foresee a lot of teacher retirements in the immediate future of many Texas schools.  Yeah, that'll help.

[The guidelines] also requires school districts to post summaries of their COVID-19 safety plans for parents and the public a week before on-campus instruction begins. Districts must require teachers and staff to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms, including taking their temperature, before going to campuses each day.

Staff members must tell their districts if they have been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and stay off campus for 14 days.
I'm not sure if that covers teachers as well as staff.  Be interesting to know, wouldn't it?

The guidelines include recommendations for school districts attempting to stop the spread of the virus. Schools "should attempt" to have hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations at each entrance and are encouraged to supervise students in hand-washing for at least 20 seconds twice a day. And "where feasible without disrupting the educational experience," schools should encourage students to practice social distancing and consider placing student desks 6 feet apart.

Which is literally impossible.  Most classrooms are full to capacity, and unless 50% of all students stay home for "virtual learning," there is no way in the world to put desks 6 feet apart in any classroom.  And in the lunchroom?  On the playground, in the halls?

This is a joke.

I think my favorite part is this:

State Rep. Dan Huberty and state Sen. Larry Taylor, both education committee chairs, praised the TEA for giving school districts "freedom and flexibility to operate in the best way for their local communities" and allowing parents to make the final decision on whether their children return to campus.

I don't know of a school district that has so much as one truant officer anymore.  Hell, it's a concept as quaint as Dick Tracy and "2 way wrist radios."  Or flying cars.  "Allowing parents to make the final decision"?  The state of Texas did that years ago when they approved of home schooling, with minimal to no oversight.  Parents keep their kids at home, what's TEA gonna do?  Issue a stern memo to the school districts?

Once again, the State of Texas has struggled mightily and come up with a squib.

Oh, well, it's not like the Governor was going to do any better.  The cherry on the sundae will be when Trump declares this is his doing, and it proves he's leading the parade.  Meanwhile, in that other important institution of democracy:

I guess one is easier to solve than the other, huh?  Of course, CDC recommended schools with any case of coronavirus close the entire school for two weeks, every time a case was found.  Yeah, that was helpful, too.

“I don’t know much about markets...”

“But I think the market is a great green god.” And we gotta make some sacrifices to the gods now and again, right?

Back in the day we said "Prejudiced"


for somebody who used racist language or even occassionally uttered the "n-word," but we reserved "racist" for people who demanded segregation laws remain intact, and no blacks be allowed in our schools (that I could grow up and move around my small town without ever seeing more than a few blacks in a year was never grounds for wonder, for me or any adult I knew).  "Prejudiced" was a way of saying "not as bad as a KKK member."

Is "racially divisive" the new "prejudiced"?  Have we really gotten no further than that?  Because I can remember when the "n-word" was considered no worse than "racially divisive."  I mean, polite people didn't use it in polite society, but I still managed to grow up quite familiar with it.  And I never thought of myself as even "prejudiced."

I was actually a racist, by culture and upbringing.  Took me a long, long time to realize that.  Gonna take the nation a long time to realize it, too.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Surely The People Are Sheeple

The excuse is, this will make the convention go faster. But it’s still scheduled for three days,and once again Dan Patrick is quite willing to let others make a sacrifice on his behalf.
The show must go on; but only the audience needs to pay the price.
Texas reported over 10,000 new cases today. 10% of those were in Houston. What could go wrong?

Another Step Closer To The Dark

Schools Are Like Hospitals, Right?


Just start there; and then let me say that Texas schools are organized into independent school districts.  Each elects its own school board, and sets its own calendar for the school year.  That calendar is controlled in very broad measure by state law (number of days of instruction, etc.), but schools can choose their own holiday schedule and when they will start the fall semester (again, within some limits) and when they will end the spring semester.  Such state governance as there is of the schools comes through the Texas Education Agency, whose governing members are also publicly elected officials who no more answer to the Governor directly than any other elected office in State government does (not at all, in other words).

When the crisis struck schools in Texas in the spring, each school district reacted as it saw fit for its students and teachers and staff.  The TEA "approved" of each individual action not because it needed to, but because it couldn't do otherwise. And it approved, in almost all cases, after the fact. The "political pressure," in other words, came, if at all, from the parents.  It's still coming from them.  I can't speak to other states, but in the second most populous state in the country, parents don't give a wet snap what Donald Trump wants.  They are concerned for their children's health and safety.  And a lot of that concern is in the suburbs Donald Trump so desperately needs in November.

I'm honestly trying to make sense of how you can compare public school facilities to hospitals.  You might as well analogize grocery stores to slaughter houses.  They serve entirely different purposes in entirely different ways.  In fact, slaughterhouses are more analagous to grocery stores, since both have the same end:  to provide meat for consumption.  I can't say even that much is common about hospitals and schools. Other than being facilities built to accomodate lots of people, what do they have in common?

And I understand one of the best places to catch covid-19 is in a hospital.  That's why they don't let vistors in to the rooms of patients with the disease.

Sec. Azar is a nincompoop.

Trump, as usual, wants something; and all he can imagine is that the world agrees with Trump.  The people in Texas, looking at that story in the tweet I started with, are very worried about safety.  Our coronavirus caseload is exploding, and schools reopen as soon as six weeks from now.  Nobody sees this problem magically disappearing before then.

As I say:  in some states, maybe.  In Texas?  I think he'll find himself losing support in Texas if he tries that.  Abbott is already facing the disgrace of having his state convention shut down by Houston public health officials.  He's not about to enrage the parents in the cities, some of whom are still stalwart Republicans, but would cross over in November if Abbott pushes them too hard.  Abbott will back off the responsibility for opening schools so he can blame school districts for whatever happens, must as he has mayors and county judges.

So public health is now a "political reason"?  George Orwell is screaming "I TOLD YOU SO!"  from his grave.

"Political reason" is just a scare word to him.  Just like any decrease in unemployment is good, even though it's not nearly enough right now.  He doesn't get concepts, ideas, words:  he just wants responses that he thinks are appropriate to proving his worth and value.  I think he imagines people screaming and clapping when he says these things; it doesn't matter what the words mean, it's the reaction that counts.

Equally, it's not clear how he thinks his words carry any weight, any authority in these matters; especially now, especially about schools.  Schools are not run by the handful of MAGAheads who think wearing a mask is an insult to their manhood or an infringement of their liberties.  In Texas, even if Greg Abbott says the schools must open, the schools can tell him to fuck off.  And across the country, parents can tell the schools "Not for MY kid!"   And even if the state doesn't allow for homeschooling, let's see the states cope with such a mass movement.  As I said, the TEA authorized school closings for the spring semester long after it happened.  They had to get in front of that parade, because they couldn't stop it.  Trump won't even be confused for the drum major.

One More Reason To Vote For Biden

Tiwtter Aint' the Fuckin' World, Part MMXX


Normally, I wouldn’t be at all concerned about a professional tabloid weirdo like Kanye West running for president. Today, however, I’m actually quite concerned, and not because I think Kanye is likely to win or even fumble his way onto enough ballots to make a dent. He won’t. For now.

The problem with Kanye or other political hobbyists running for president is that it further erodes the already threadbare integrity of our presidential politics, making it increasingly acceptable for other famous-for-being-famous nincompoops to run, and perhaps win. The last four years have illustrated how profoundly dangerous that can be.
The problem is not with Kanye West (whom I regard as a mentally ill individual who should be getting treatment, not publicity) nor even the "already threadbare integrity of our presidential politics."  The problem is with confusing Twitter with anything more serious than the national billboard where almost anything can be posted, and where most of it is ignored.

If I had a Twitter account and announced I was running for President, who would notice?  Or even take me seriously?  My friends would either wonder that the joke was, or start planning an intervention.  Would that "further erode[] the already threadbare integrity of our" etc., etc.?  No, of course not.  Is Kanye West's tweet somehow more authoritative because it was published by Kanye West?

No; of course not.

Maybe, by now, Yeezy has started to file the paperwork in all 50 states, complete with supporting petitions, necessary to get on the ballot for election as the President of the United States.  But I'm gonna go out on a limb and say he hasn't.  I'll further assert he hasn't even tried, and he's never going to try.  I wouldn't be surprised if he's already forgotten about this, or if it in fact turns into an ad campaign for his next album.  That's actually the most reasonable explanation.  I'm old enough to remember when Lyndon LaRouche was a perennial third-party candidate for President.  I'm old enough to remember when George Wallace ran for President; and Ross Perot.  You can't begin to talk about "threadbare integrity of our presidential politics" if all you've got is a tweet from a very famous crazy person.  Lyndon LaRouche was convinced the Queen of England sat at the center of an international drug ring, among other things, and he had people who believed every crazy thing he said.  Q-Anon is a pack of pikers and school children compared to LaRouche; that guy was around for decades!

Or Father Coughlin, who championed FDR, then turned against him, then, based on conspiracy theories about Jewish bankers, began supporting Hitler and fascism until WWII gave FDR the authority to shut him up and shut down both his radio program and his newsletter.

Hell, I'm old enough to remember when Pat Paulsen ran for President.  Stephen Colbert even set up a Super-PAC, that I remember, too.  The "integrity" of our Presidential politics has been "threadbare" since Jefferson ran against Adams; maybe even since Washington refused to run again.

And you think the Republic is coming to an end because Yeezy fired off a tweet?

These days, the ground is especially fertile for dilettantes and tourists to run for national office. 

Like I said:  LaRouche; Wallace; Perot.  Paulsen. Every four years the ground "is especially fertile for dillettantes and tourists to run for national office."

LaRouche was a perennial candidate for President of the United States. He ran in every election from 1976 to 2004 as a candidate of third parties established by members of his movement. He also tried to gain the Democratic presidential nomination. In 1996, he got 5% of the total nationwide vote in Democratic primaries. In 2000, he received enough primary votes to qualify for delegates in some states, but ultimately was refused those delegates at the convention.
In 1986 several LaRouche candidates won the Illinois Democratic primaries, only to be defeated by the Democratic candidates running on a third party ticket in the general election.  28 years LaRouche ran, and you think 2020 is "especially fertile"?  Gimme a break.  And please:

It became blindingly noticeable in 2016, but during the course of this year in particular, our national freakout has worsened to a point where sound judgment has been dangerously inhibited, while reality and reason have become increasingly rare commodities, largely abandoned by at least 40 percent of us.
Stop throwing that number around like it means something.  It doesn't. Using it as if it were a hard cold fact just contributes to a narrative as false as Trump's claims about the coronavirus.  We've got enough bullshit in the air; don't fight it with still more bullshit.

Alleged grownups are routinely scolding anyone wearing a mask, either because the mask wearers are, they say, succumbing to fear or because the mask wearers are merely doing it to express their disapproval of Donald Trump, whose existence as president, by the way, is more responsible than anything else for the breakdown. Trump has exploited the bully pulpit to undermine our national sense of right and wrong, of reality and fiction, to the point where his most loyal disciples — again, chronological adults — don’t have any idea what’s real and what’s fake.

Again: please stop pushing the fake narrative.  I don't go out much, or to many stores (I'm cautious), but since things got worse in Texas, I haven't seen anyone in any store without a mask on.  Yes, daily I see a video on line somewhere of some beleaguered white person (why is it always a white person?) screaming about how they don't have to wear a mask.  Usually right before they leave the store because, peer pressure, ya know?  I've never encountered those people, never been in a store where I even heard such a person. I'm sure it happens but then, Lyndon LaRouche had followers and even voters, too.  Oddly, you don't hear about him anymore, even though his last gasp was only 16 years ago.  He's been quite thoroughly erased from memory, and good riddance to him.

Yes, it is bad to have Donald Trump as our President, especially right now.  Right now he's so bad, the situation is so bad, he's so incompetent and clueless and downright evil, it's becoming a topic for discussion almost everywhere except in the pages of the Grey Lady (whose coverage of Trump reminds me of the stories Molly Ivins tells about trying to write for the venerable institution, which hired her for her distinctive voice and then tried to suppress it out of her, or at least out of their pages.  But that's another story).  We know things are bad, we know Trump is a menace.  Stop making it worse with clueless accusations and mindless repetition of equally stupid narratives.

Surely we can at least discuss our problems in a way that doesn't imitate Trump.  Surely we can do better than that.

“I’m Not Even Prejudiced”

"I just wouldn’t want my daughter to marry one."

I'm guessing growing up in California he didn't see any Mexicans, either.  Unless he wandered out to the fields or the orange groves at the right time of year.  Or found himself on the "wrong" side of town, by accident.  Or intent.  Probably grew up thinking "Mexicans" wasn't a racial category, because they were just...you know, Mexicans!  More of those darker skinned people God put here to serve white people.  You can see that without seeing race, right?

And let the people say...


AMEN!

Gotta quit hiding that wound.....

Well, She's Not Wrong

Historical Footnote


My high school banned this flag on its campus in 1972.

Stardate 7-7- 2020, supplemental: It was also the SECOND LARGEST CONFEDERATE FLAG IN THE WORLD! It was carried onto the field by 22 "Lee Gentlemen" who would hold it up for the football team to run under.

I have often wondered what became of it--and where and how large the LARGEST one was.

It's funny, I vaguely remember this, but everytime I do, I think I must be wrong.  Memory is weird that way.

I think it covered at least half a football field.  Close to it, anyway.

Same As It Ever Was



“Bob, I can almost feel and see our viewers’ eyes rolling in the back of their heads as they hear more Republicans being worried about something or deeply concerned about something the president has done because we’ve heard it so many times over the last three and a half, four years,” Geist quipped. “Is there something different now about what he’s saying and doing? Is it the racially charged tweets, the NASCAR thing? The Confederate flag, the preserving heritage, which is the euphemism for keeping the statues up, is there something different for them and their party different from previous moments?”

“No and their behavior is the same it’s been for the last three and a half years under President Trump,” Costa replied. “You don’t see any significant break, those who broke with President Trump like senator Mitt Romney, have done so before on impeachment and other issues.”

“This is the same private grumbling we’ve heard from three and a half years from Republicans talking about their own prospects, but the thing that’s different now, Willy, is the fear — the fear their power is at risk,” he continued. “They have control of the Senate, they want to continue to control the nomination process in the courts and now they fear that’s slipping away. You see across the map, even in traditionally red states Senate Democrats are having mayor hauls because of the grassroots energy on the left.”


Honestly, what has changed is not Trump. What has changed is the narrative about Trump.

It’s a lovely myth

It’s a lovely myth, that we are each of us our own John Wayne; but it’s utter bullshit.

I remember the anti-war movement of the’60’s, when the “default” response was not “robust individualism” bu “Shut up and do as you’re told!”  The response to the civil rights movement was “We don’t allow that and you’d better not think otherwise!”  Funny, but when people filled the streets and protested on college campuses, they weren't "many Americans" but a noisy minority; "outside agitators" and "troublemakers", a label applied to the now revered Dr. King as well as to Malcolm X or Stokely Carmichael.

This myth of "many Americans" being "rugged individualists" is just a pernicious lie.  First, the people who manage to get in front of TV cameras are not representative of all Americans.  The anti-war and civil rights protestors understood this:  TV exposure is crucial for getting the message out.  But nobody in the '60's confused those people who took to the streets for the majority of Americans.  It was LBJ (following on Kennedy) who got the Civil Rights Act passed (he did largely on the back of Kennedy's funeral; it was Kennedy's bill, originally).  LBJ got the Voting Rights Act passed, and refused to run for office again because of opposition to the War.  But the war didn't end until 1975, 7 years after the end of LBJ's term; and Dr. King was killed in '68, 3 years after the Voting Rights Act was passed.  Was that assassination an act of "robust individualism"?  Or a denial of it?

The "Tea Party" was an astroturf campaign by big money conservatives that, again, got in front of cameras, which exaggerated it's representation all out of proportion to reality (and hid it's racism very nicely, thank you.  Then again, media hid from and hid Trump's racism until just recently, when it has become visible to a blind man (a good metaphor for the media).).  The "re-open America" movement (it doesn't really fit that label) was a handful of shouters on the streets who got more attention for carrying guns than for carrying signs.  They were such "robust individualists" many of the ones carrying guns wore balaclavas to hide their faces.

There is no "suspicion of government mandates," either.  There is a suspicion of other people, based on racism.  Nobody had a problem with "government mandates" when the Civil Rights movement and the anti-war movement protested injustice (not "government mandates").  None of these "robust individualists" had a problem with laws they liked; it was the protest against the injustice of those laws they didn't like.  It was the laws requiring equal justice under the law they didn't like.  It was the laws require fair treatment in housing Donald and Fred Trump didn't like.  It wasn't a 'natural tendency' to want to live free or die.  It was a natural tendency to want to use the law to make things more comfortable for people in power, who happened to be white because that's the "natural order" of things in America.

Stuff this John Wayne bullshit.  Government works great when it works for me.  When it tries to work for somebody else, that's when it goes wrong.  I've seen it in court cases where my client is on the wrong side of the law.  They are never wrong, it's the law that's unjust!  It percolates up to the notion society owes them a comfortable life, and if it's at the expense of someone else, then that someone else is invisible and even deserving of being on the wrong side of the law.  The Civil Rights movement and the anti-war movement were both, at root, about injustice.  As justice was more equally served, suddenly people found they were "individuals" who were "suspicious of government mandates," because the mandates that kept everything "seperate but equal" were just fine with them, and removing those was the real injustice.

We've been telling ourselves lies about justice in this country since 1776.  We didn't stop doing that 50 years ago; we just found new ways of doing it.  We still do.  But it still stinks like the same old bullshit.

Gov. Mini-Trump Passes The Buck.

Again.

And apparently he thinks our choices are catastrophe or poverty, and he chooses the former. But don’t blame him! Blame the mayors of Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso! It’s their fault! Somehow.

Let history note the mask order he’s whining about is the same order he refused to let counties and cities enforce until the crisis was upon us. And he’s the one who opened the bars and restaurants, only to close them again. There’s also the fact that order only applies to businesses, not individuals. What happens when schools open? They aren’t businesses, after all.

The last time his actions failed he blamed the people. Now he blames local officials, He never takes any responsibility; he only wants credit. Somebody ask him how that’s working out for Trump.

And what has Greg Abbott done lately, except to imitate this practice to the last degree?

That's Going Well


When I got yeezy's tweet, there was this tweet in the replies, by a political sub-genius:
Now there is this one as well:
Twitter is the BEST place for uninformed electoral commentary.

Yeezy needs to get on that paper work if he's gonna get on those ballots if he's gonna make it happen. Unless he thinks tweets = paperwork.  Which, admittedly, is possible.

Adjusting the Rearview Mirror


In October 2017, more than half of Texas voters thought Confederate statues and monuments should remain where they are — 34% just as they are and another 22% with “historical context provided.” Public opinion has flipped, with most believing they should either be removed from public view (20%) or “moved to a museum or other site where they can be presented in historical context (32%). A slight majority of white voters (53%) would leave the monuments in place, while majorities of Black voters (82%) and Hispanic voters (54%) would move them.

Me, I'd have 'em all toad, crushed, and burned, starting with that monstrosity in the picture, which is 117 years old this year (the Civil War ended in 1865.  1903 was the heyday of the "Lost Cause" movement.)  I'm used to being wholly out of step with public opinion.  I'm not used to Texas public opinion trying to catch up with me.

It makes me a little giddy.

Fauci Is With The Lamestream Media?

Or he actually knows what he’s talking about?

I don't teach for Harvard (obviously)


But if you think my teaching (such as it is) is worth less because you read my words on a screen rather than hear me say them (or I could record them and you play the video), you're going to have to explain what the fundamental difference is to me.

I've been lecturing for 20 years now.  By and large, my students react to my lectures like bumps on a log, or toads on a stump: i.e., not at all.  Occassionally (so occassionally I can remember all 5 instances), a student tells me how much the class meant to them, how interesting I made it, etc.  Most of them are just there because they feel obliged to be.

Again, I know it's not Harvard, but still; I don't think all Harvard students are hightly motivated super-achievers.  There are still George W. Bushes in the Ivy Leagues.

Tuition pays for access to the teachers, and to their knowledge.  I actually work harder right now, because what I would be doing daily (walking into a classroom, talking about British literature, going home, doing it again the next day) I have to do weeks in advance (so its ready when the time comes) and I have to type it out.  I have to consider that the students are reading, what my words will mean in print (as opposed to coming out of my mouth; I can modulate tone and pause for emphasis or go back over a point in the classroom; I have to think differently about that on-line), and in general I do more work (by now; my lectures have been given multiple times in 20 years, it's almost rote to me.  I could walk into a classroom tomorrow morning and lecture on a topic from composition and rhetoric to world, English or American literature, to philosophy.  Prick me, I bleed words.  It ain't always pretty, but I could do it.) preparing an on-line class than I do for a face-to-face class.

And I've taught on-line for many years, too.

Is my instruction worth less because I type out my lectures (I have neither the facilities nor the abilities to record and edit lectures for viewing.  Then again, I'm not paid like a Harvard professor, either), and I do all the typing myself (something tells me Harvard professors have people for that).  Is my instruction somehow how worth less to the student because of how that instruction is delivered?

I mean, I get the issue:  the college experience is rather hard to get off a computer screen.  I don't recommend "on-line universities" as a substitute for Harvard, although the former is far more affordable than the latter.  But pray, enlighten me:  tuition is paid for access to professors.  Why are they worth less, or the education worth less, if those professors are in videos, or just typing their notes into an on-line platform for you to download and keep?  Seems to me the latter is actually a better deal.  And yes, if the class is small enough, I don't see why you can't do it like a Zoom call, where everyone can participate (if they do.  As I said:  toads on a stump.  Lord, watching their blank faces on a computer screen would be simply too much to bear.)

What do you think college tuition pays for?  Especially a Harvard degree?  Aren't most people paying for that name?

"These things that pass for knowledge I don't understand."  I really need to create a false university crest with that motto on it in Latin.  The motto for Faber College is so clearly out of date.  Knowledge is not good anymore, only money is.  What you think you're getting for it, is the only question people ask.

When I wrote that our national shortcomings are being revealed


This is what I meant.  I do none of these things, and except for the "front-line jobs," the rest had never occurred to me as a cause for disease transmission.  But it's obvious, isn't it?  And yet invisible to so many of us who are not Black or Latino (i.e., poor, or at least below middle middle class).  I pride myself on being more aware of my limitations of sight because of my position as a well-educated white male.

I pride myself on that, and as ever, my pride is what blinds me.  Lessons in humility abound, and yet it is so hard to take them.

Again: Not The Onion

Biden is going to have a hard time fighting off Parscale’s “Death Star.”