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

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

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

Thursday, September 29, 2016

"Officer, they're looting the Food King!"



Estimates are that between 80 and 100 million people watched the first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on Monday, September 26.  That was the lowest point in the race (for Hillary supporters; or the closest the two candidates had been, in the polls, if you prefer) since July 30, according to 538.com. 

The gap between Clinton and Trump has only widened since then.  Do debates matter?  Normally, no.  Mitt Romney didn't turn the tide in the first debate against Obama, although many thought that debate a disaster for the President.  But Donald Trump turned in a  performance for the ages, one many thought the worst ever for a candidate.

And then he doubled down on it.  For the past three days he has been bringing up. on his own, the former Miss Universe, in a manner sure to endear him to undecideds and women voters everywhere.  Now he is reportedly trying to get his supporters to bring up Monica Lewinsky every chance they get, because clearly a woman who can't keep her man from wandering and unzipping his pants with other women, is not a woman fit to be President.

Again, a surely winning issue for Mr. Trump.

His "surrogates" don't want to do this.  They would rather he talk about the economy and security issues, the thinks they are sure voters are concerned about.  Some even say the fault lies with Lester Holt for not asking the right questions at the debate; but Trump never raised those issues either.  He interrupted frequently, snorted derisively, rose to the bait every time Mrs. Clinton dangled it, and yet it is someone else's fault he looked the fool.

It always is.

Will the next two debates matter?  Yes, if only to confirm the train wreck.  Donald Trump will end his campaign with those debates.  Early voting has already started in Iowa, with the first debate fresh on everyone's mind, and Trump seizing the headlines to complain about how a former Miss Universe has so abused him; when he isn't talking about expelling non-conservative Christians from his rallies.  But, just like he didn't bring up Bill Clinton's infidelities at the first debate, in a manly show of restraint, he won't expel non-conservative Christians from his rallies.

Well, not yet; but don't try his patience.  Or question his manliness; or anything else about him; like his success in the debate.  He will insist on his view, and damn reality.

Which has its own ways of damning those who insist on denying it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Wait a minute!


Where's all the straight people? 

A quick question about this Pew research regarding American opinions on matters like same-sex marriage and who gets to pee where.  Please note the responses are divided, among other ways, between those who regularly attend worship, and those who don't.

And immediately the question is:  how does Pew know?  Well, by asking, of course.  But how do they know it's true?

Answer:  they don't.

Not that this means a great deal in and of itself, but the response skew strongly conservative (as in, maintain the status quo) among those who regularly attend worship.  Which could mean there is a direct causal connection between religious worship (Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Baha'i, what have you) and social conservatism.  Or it could mean social conservatives are more concerned with thinking of themselves as regular attendees at worship, because it is right and proper to do so.

Although anecdotally I must say the most regular worshippers are generally the most conservative, in the sense they want things to always be done the way we've always done them, a sense true for the most radical UCC church goer as it is for the hardest shell Baptist or MO Synod member.  All a matter there of what you're "conserving."  And yes, church is still a "pillar" or American society, and we all know pillars mean they are straight and strong and unmoving, preferably still looking like one of the classic Greek styles, if at all possible (i.e., as frozen in time as stone, or concrete, which really doesn't wear away).

But correlation is not the same as causation.

Still, I've got to read the results to see what conclusions I draw from them.  That just stuck out to me. I've learned too well how to worry about too little.

Carry on.

The Martian Chronicles

Mars is Heaven!

The first contradiction in Elon Musk's idea to colonize Mars is that we can't save earth (if we don't become a multiplantery species, he argues, we face certain doom!), but we can terraform Mars.

Huh?

And we'll do this within 9 years, or at least start it, through a company that so far has never sent a single human being into orbit. and whose Mars Project depends on building the largest rocket ever built (if it could be built).  Yes, we have put people on the Moon; but obviously it isn't the same thing as putting someone behind the wheel of a car.

Or even making a car that won't drive itself into trucks.

But I love the idea that Mars, with no life forms that will support human life, will be home to a colony of Vegans one day (Musk says we can send a pizza kitchen; but can we send the makings for pepperoni, or will that have to be an import item?).  As we learn more and more about the bacteria in our gut that sustain life, and the microbes that make our body systems possible, I wonder just how much we understand our connection through these organisms to the environment around us.  There is already concern for the effects of low or zero-gravity on the human eye.  What other affects are we not considering?

And if a disease process starts running through a Mars colony that can only get a flight through from Earth every 26 months, it could be almost three years between outbreak and any possible medicines to combat it.  Mars colonists would have to make the most rabid hypochondriacs look like libertines.  It would be a matter of survival.

Besides, you cannot live on Mars outside of an artificial environment.  Cabin Fever would not be an issue because it couldn't be.  Except, of course, it would be.  Yes, we could put domes under the sea and live there, too.  But you can leave the dome and be on dry land in a matter of hours.  Every colonist on Mars would be a "boy in a bubble," and every person on Mars would have to learn to live in what would essentially be a monastic community:  one dedicated to one thing, and one thing only :  survival in an environment not meant to support human life.

And it's a one-way ticket.  In that sense the colonists would be more like anchorites than monks and cloistered nuns.  They would, like the anchorites, be dead to the world.  Unlike the anchorites, however, they would have no contact with the world; only with each other.  The kind of richness and complexity of society we imagine in science fiction movies would be non-existent, in the same way the post-apocalyptic world in movies has lost all industry, but retains an endless supply of ammunition and gasoline.  In a world with no industry, both of those items would be too valuable to use; in the movies, they are consumed with abandon, even though they would be wholly irreplaceable.  Just so in colonizing Mars:  the settlers would not be a wildly diverse crew pursuing a variety of ends.  They would all concentrate on one thing:  survival.  That, and being sure no foolish or careless individual threatened their survival.

Imagine the police state that would soon become.

Elon Musk may imagine it a paradise, or even a next logical step for humanity.  I can only see it as a living hell, and a dead end.

But none of this would have to happen because we would "terraform" Mars.  Ray Bradbury did it by planting trees, which grew to full size almost overnight.  I'm not sure what fantastical solution Mr. Musk has in mind, but like most of his thinking on this subject, I'm sure it's entirely fictional.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

"You wouldn't like me when I'm angry"


Watching Donald Trump last night was like watching Bill Bixby struggle to not turn into Lou Ferrigno.  The situation called for David Banner:  intelligent, calm, thoughtful.  But Trump couldn't control himself, and after about 20 minutes, he was The Incredible Hulk.  Except he was the body builder in green body paint and a wig, not the CGI behemoth who smashes all things around him.  And what's funny is how few people thought it would happen that way.

Trump was touted as the man who survived all those GOP debates, the last man standing after the GOP finished slaughtering themselves around him.  The truth is not that Trump survived the Night of the Long Knives, but that he was the biggest clown in the clown car.  The GOP debates were not a blood-letting, they were a pillow fight.  They were a pie fight in the War Room.  They were a flash flood in a Fizzie factory.  Donald Trump never truly engaged in a proper Presidential debate in his life.

Last night he did.  This morning, he blames his microphone.

Yesterday, the "smart money" said this couldn't happen, that Trump was too clever, too much of a "street fighter," too good at turning attacks against him into attacks on his opponent.  He was the master of verbal jiu jitsu, and King of Stage Managed Karate.  The smart money said the bar was so low Trump couldn't fail to set over it.

Last night, he did.

The Master of the Craft argued about Obama's birth certificate and bragged that he forced Obama to reveal it, the first time any President has had to do so in American history.  And Trump bragged about that in the context of healing race relations in America.  He then went on to defend "stop and frisk," because nothing heals race relations in America like treating every African American and Latino male like a suspect until proven innocent, especially in an America where "open carry" is now deemed not just a Constitutional right but a human obligation.  Except, of course, for blacks and Latinos, who must be stopped and frisked, said Trump, so they can be disarmed.

Trump the Indomitable went "off the rails" on the race issue.  Trump the Unstoppable force "crumbled" and proved himself not ready for prime time.   This morning the only surprise is that anyone is surprised.

Heh.  And it's not getting any better this morning:

"I have to say, certainly as a woman, I appreciated the restraint at the end — I’m not sure I would have been able to exercise it myself — but restraint is a virtue, and it’s a presidential virtue," Conway said. "To tell Hillary Clinton, after she accused him of being terrible with women, to tell Hillary Clinton, ‘I was prepared to go rough tonight and I’m not going to do it because your husband and your daughter are here,’ that is going to grow in importance over the next couple of days as the moment of great temperament and restraint."

Conway was later asked what Trump refrained from mentioning.

"He could have said what was on millions of Americans minds no doubt, that are we going to relitigate who’s been good to women and who hasn’t," Conway responded. " I think we all can finish the sentence. I mean, people did last night, they finished the sentence, you know, that maybe he was going to talk about Bill Clinton's record with women. But he decided not to."

And when asked if Trump holds Hillary Clinton accountable for her husband's behavior with women, Conway replied, "He didn’t say that."
Sad!

Adding:  credit where it is due.  The pre-debate consensus was that fact-checking would be essential to keep Trump from telling lies and "winning" the debate.  Clinton, wisely, just let Trump talk, a few times even pointing out his ranting spoke for itself.

That, kiddies, is the way you do it.


Monday, September 26, 2016

Like a rented mule


I really didn't think Hillary would clean Trump's clock the way she did.  Within 20 minutes Trump had gone from Teleprompter Donald to Crazy Homeless Guy yelling at his shadow Donald, and he stayed that way for the next 75 minutes.

As they noted on NPR and PBS, Trump made it all about Trump.  NATO is fighting terrorism because of Trump (not true, as Hillary pointed out); Obama released his birth certificate (the long form; he actually released the other one earlier) because of Trump (who then continued to harangue about it for five more years); I was expecting to find out the sun comes up because Trump.

And Hillary has been fighting ISIS her entire adult life.  Check the transcript, he said it.

But my favorite claim from Trump is one that cannot be fact-checked:

“I have much better judgment than she does,” Trump said. “I also have a much better temperament than she has. She spent—let me tell you. She spent hundreds of millions of dollars on an advertising—you know, they get Madison Avenue into a room. I think my strongest asset maybe by far is my temperament.”

“I have a winning temperament,” he added. “I know how to win.”
Most of us learned by the age of 10 that this is no way to win an argument, or to talk about yourself.

Sad!

Friday, September 23, 2016

That's me in the spotlight....


I should be inspired by an internet article that tries to discuss TV's ideas about religion, especially when I basically agree with the premise as presented in the sub-headline: "TV portrays religion in a number of ways. What hasn’t been considered as often is the purpose of faith."  Too true; all too true.  Of course, there are problems with defining "faith" apart from "religion," because the definition of "faith" usually has to do with what you believe (not who you trust, or "have faith in"), and then we start arguing over whether religion is a social construct while "faith" is something individuals engage in, and the whole thing goes right off the rails.

The actual discussion, however, is about TV shows:  "The Exorcist," "Penny Dreadful," "Preacher," and "The Good Place."  I'm not familiar with any of them (I plan to catch up on "Penny Dreadful" on Netflix at some point, but then again, I might not.  It's not compelling me; and I never considered it as having anything to do with religion.).  "The Exorcist" is an extension of the novel/movie, but with two different priests (both fairly young, apparently; gotta get the demographic) fighting demons; oh, and the Catholic church bureaucracy, which I suppose is a bone to Clint Eastwood fans, or something.      Well, always gotta fight the power, or the Man; amirite?  Oh, "Exorcist" is thematically connected to "Outcast," where a village is apparently plagued by demons.  Sounds a little like Stephen King to me, but what do I know?  I don't know how these two are connected to "Preacher," except that in that one the title character carries around a being called "Genesis" (Biblical, get it?) and sets up a conversation between a church congregation and God.  According to the article that conversation doesn't go well (if it did the TV show would end abruptly, I guess); but then again Jonathan Edwards would have something to say about sinners in the hands of God.  Annie Dillard would, too; but maybe I'm getting too literary for television.

You might be noticing a pattern here, and it isn't just that TV loves action and prefers violence when it can get it.  Apparently "Penny Dreadful" includes a character who clings tenaciously to her faith, only to lose it in what the article calls "that most Victorian of evils, a broken heart."  I have to say, that's not a peculiarly Victorian evil; it certainly ranks high in modern Hollywood storylines, too.  So high my first thought is hardly that it's Victorian in nature at all.  The list goes on:  "Game of Thrones" apparently was set in motion by a loss of faith (The Red Priestess realizes her vision are false*), and this leads to an interesting (but also false) conclusion:

Notice that these shows all hang on supernatural themes. Indeed, genre television and film has long provided creators with the means to approach many existential questions, including dissections of faith, in such an oblique fashion.
Well, yeah, supernatural as opposed to religious themes, I agree.  But that's the way TV handles religion now.  Once it was schmaltzy piety, or dreary doe-eyed piety (Heavenly choirs singing in the background as the sun breaks through the clouds and enlightens a beatific actress's face, which is turned heavenward); now it's all about power.  Which, in modern understanding, is what the "supernatural" is for:  access to power, physical, visible, undeniable power.

It's a post-Romantic idea.  Scan European literature, and witches are either the Witch of Endor, in 1 Samuel, or the Delphic Oracle in Greece, two characters with a shared root:  knowledge.  The Witch of Endor is no Harry Potter-esque witch, but someone who passes on messages to Saul from Samuel.   Likewise the Delphic Oracle gave messages from the gods to humans.  Later, in European folklore collected during the Romantic interest in anthropology, witches appear as symbols of evil.  But the witch in Hansel and Gretel doesn't wave a wand over the children, and few if any of the witches in Grimm's tales exhibit the kind of power over the elements, or even objects, that we connect with the Sorcerer's Apprentice or Harry Potter.  Tolkien's Gandalf is an elder wizard of this kind; he sets off fireworks, and sparks his staff into light, but he fights with a sword and exhibits courage and knowledge, not access to supernatural powers whenever the dwarves or the Fellowship are in a tight spot and could use, say, a transportation spell.

Supernatural is our modern term, for exerting power with no seeming connection between object and human except will.  It's a metaphor grown out of the Industrial revolution.  We even comfort ourselves that "primitive tribes" (and aside from a few cargo cults, there's no real evidence for it) would think our technology "magic" if they were to see it.  But that's what we call magic; their culture may simply call it "power."

That's the connection between all those stories:  access to power.  It's what we've been seeking ever since we found energy sources that would give us machines of power, and since we found the power latent in petroleum, it has made us power mad, indeed.  So our presentations of religion in popular culture, which amount to discussions of religion in the public square, turn on access to power and the use of power:  power to control demons, or power to confront God, or just the old complaint that the gods don't listen and don't care, and won't share their power.  What good is God, after all, if God won't share power?

And what if the omnipotent being whom we call by so many names, refuses to intervene when we need it most? What if it doesn’t know anything?
Because knowledge, you know, is power.  We think that's universal, too, except in the most famous case of the Oracle speaking for the gods, and of Tiresias speaking truth to power, Oedipus found knowledge left him powerless.   If God won't intervene when we need it, if God won't even make a display of God's power, what good is God?

64:1 O that you would tear open the heavens and come down, so that the mountains would quake at your presence--

64:2 as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil-- to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence!

64:3 When you did awesome deeds that we did not expect, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.

Isaiah 64:1-3.  Like I said, it's a very old question.  And it's a very old demand:  a demand that God display some power.  Not that Isaiah continues in that vein:

64:4 From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.

64:5 You meet those who gladly do right, those who remember you in your ways. But you were angry, and we sinned; because you hid yourself we transgressed.

64:6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy cloth. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.

64:7 There is no one who calls on your name, or attempts to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have delivered us into the hand of our iniquity.

64:8 Yet, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

64:9 Do not be exceedingly angry, O LORD, and do not remember iniquity forever. Now consider, we are all your people.

That's the part nobody on TeeVee wants:  the patience, the humility, the trust.  The trust!  Yes, the faith in God.  "No ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him."  That line in particular hearkens back to the scripture where God did "come down" and kindle the brushwood.  It didn't happen on command, or with a snap of a priest's fingers, or with the incantation of a spell.  And who wants to say on TV:  "You meet those gladly who do right, those who remember you in your ways....O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand."

That is an expression of faith; that is an expression of trust.  From the cry of anguish in verse 1, to that statement of absolute faith (trust) in verse 9; how do you fit that into a TV script, and make the conflict anything any audience would sit still for?

So you get the Hollywood version.  And in the Hollywood version God is not just power but access to power, and if we can't invoke God's power, where's the drama, where's the interest, what do we do with this Jep ("woman in jeopardy," an old standard of TV writing which still holds true to this day.  Go ahead, look for the "Jep" in the first few minutes of the next TV drama you care to watch.  You'll probably find one pretty quickly.  Hollywood learned early on that when there's a Jep in the first 15 minutes of less, the audience stays to the end to find out what happened.)?  So God in Hollywood is all about access to power.  Without that, where's the drama?**

Take "Constantine," the Keanu Reeves movie I always enjoying watching over and over again.  Of course it's the Catholic church as video game, chockfull not of matters of faith, but of the power of the supernatural; and God is the most supernatural of all.  Constantine wins because he invokes the power, and finally the powerlessness, of God (yeah, it's funny that the powerlessness is what wins; just like it does for Harry Potter.  But that's another story....).  Because if God can't come down and kindle the brushwood, then Constantine will have to do it with a few spells and efforts of will; because, after all, the people paid to see a show.

*Which brings to mind another story by George R.R. Martin, about a future in which a priest roots out Christian heresies on various planets and is sent to destroy the Gospel of St. Judas, a completely fictionalized account, as its author and priest readily admits.  The idea is that such a fake undermines the faith anyone could have in the Gospels (or the church as Martin imagines it; another fake RC construct, basically), which can be no better defended against charges of falsehood than this new "gospel."  The idea is not too dissimilar to Arthur Clarke's much earlier story "The Star," where a Jesuit astronomer travels to a dead star, only to find evidence it wiped out a glorious civilization on an orbiting planet when it went nova, and did so at just the right time to signal the birth of the Christ for Matthew to record.  This creates a crisis of faith in the astronomer, which shows a laughable disregard for the realities of Jesuit training and the historicity of the gospels.  But primarily both stories show a ludicrous notion of what religious faith is.

**Otherwise the drama is just about personal anguish, as in "Agnes of God" or "Doubt."  And while both movies were fairly dramatic (if uneven), who wants to see that every week for 26 weeks?

"Thou has committed fornication....

Because that's what you mean when you say black people hate white people in America.

"But that was in another country."

In this country, we have racists to deal with, who seem to think if they speak to foreign journalists, they can't be heard in America:

“The grievance in their mind, the animus, the anger — they hate white people because white people are successful and they’re not,” Pittenger, in a shocking display of racism, said on BBC Newsnight.

Pittenger, who once said firing gay people is a “freedom we enjoy” in America, followed up his Charlotte comment by talking about Americans’ dependence on government.

“It is a welfare state,” said Pittenger, who has represented parts of Charlotte since 2013. “We have spent trillions of dollars on welfare, but we’ve put people in bondage, so that they can’t be all that they’re capable of being. America is a country of opportunity and freedom and liberty. It didn’t become that way because of a great government who provided everything for everyone. No, the destiny of America, the freedom to come to this country ― where they’re still coming to our shores ― is because they can take their work ethic, their hard effort, and put up their capital and their risk, and build out their lives.”

Pittenger was talking to the BBC.  The former Trump chair in Ohio made her racist remarks to the Guardian.  Do these people not understand the concept of "global media"?

As for Pittenger's remarks, it's okay, he apologized:

"What is taking place in my hometown right now breaks my heart. My anguish led me to respond to a reporter's question in a way that I regret," he said in his apology statement.

He didn't apologize for being a racist.  He said it was the protestor's fault.  No, seriously:


So he doesn't regret what he said; no, he regrets that his words could be heard in America, not just in Britain.  Provincial is as provincial does, I guess.

ADDING:

Honestly, are we know supposed to think that disgustingly racist statements are okay once the person who makes them gets some kind of pushback?

“Black people beating whites when a thug got shot holding a gun by a black officer haha shit cracks me up! Keep kneeling for the Anthem!” Clevenger tweeted from his account, @Clev_45.

In another tweeted, he said, “BLM is pathetic once again! Obama you are pathetic once again! Everyone involved should be locked behind bars like animals!”

And of course the problem is not what is said, but how people react to it:

“I am sickened by the idea that anyone would think of me in racist terms. My tweets were reactionary to the events I saw on the news and were worded beyond poorly at best and I can see how and why someone could read into my tweets far more deeply than how I actually feel,” he said. “I once again apologize to anyone who was offended today and I just ask you not judge me off of a social media posting."

I dunno, but "black people beating whites" and "thug" and "locked behind bars like animals" is pretty much racist language where I come from.  And aside from the fact Obama is black, what does he have to do with what's happening in Charlotte?

These people are the mole people.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Just because


My first political memories stem from 1964 (look it up, ya snot-nosed punks!  I ain't gonna do everything fer ya!)

Pay no attention

Does anybody really know whose chair this is?

...to the man behind the curtain.  Please.

Speaking at a roundtable of pastors in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Vice Presidential candidate Michael] Pence said police officers are "the best of us" and the public should avoid focusing on talking about racism, which he called the "rhetoric of division."

"Donald Trump and I both believe that there's been far too much of this talk of institutional bias or racism in law enforcement," Pence said, according to the AP.
Or in society in general, amirite?

“There wasn’t any racism until [President Barack] Obama got elected,” she said. “Now . . . with the people with the guns and shooting up neighborhoods and not being responsible citizens, that’s a big change. And I think that’s the philosophy that Obama has perpetuated on America.”

Miller further blamed black people for any real or perceived oppression.

“If you’re black and you haven’t been successful in the last 50 years, it’s your own fault,” she argued. “When you look at the last 50 years, where are we and why? We have three generations of all still having unwed babies, kids that don’t go through high school. I mean, when do they take responsibility for how they live?”
That is the former Trump chair in Monaghan County, Ohio.  She resigned her position the day that interview was published.

I'm just not sure this is the day Pence needs to be talking about racism at all, especially with his boss renouncing his latest position on Obama's birth; or telling an African America audience that stop and frisk is especially good for them; or blaming drugs for the protests in Charlotte.  And that was just in the last 24 hours.

Ye gods!  Charlie Pierce is right; we have sailed off the edge of the known world.

It's not about race, because it's never about race.  It's only about how white people are unfairly accused of being racists.  That's all it's ever been about.

And because it's never about race, I have to ask:  does anybody understand why this is a race joke?

"We also honor Wynton Marsalis, who unfortunately, could not make it here today, and Morgan Freeman, who undoubtedly is off playing a black President again," the President quipped while awarding the National Medals of Arts and Humanities. "He never lets me have my moment."
Tim Huelskamp, soon to be a former member of Congress, thinks it is.  I guess because it was made by a black man, or something.   I dunno; maybe you had to be there to be offended.

The More Things Change, the More They Remain the Same, Dept.

We sure don' care 'bout no book larnin'! 
Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin by declaring that "all men are created equal." We now practically read it "all men are created equal, except negroes." When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics." When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretence of loving liberty-to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocracy (sic).
--Abraham Lincoln

All that's needed to make that perfectly up-to-date is a crowd to point out Lincoln didn't solve that problem, and therefore his morality and ideology were not pure enough to get the job done and he should have been dumped for a replacement candidate right before the election because what a disappointment he turned out to be.

Oh, and just change "catholics" to "Muslims."  But to most people, that's a distinction without a difference, because the difference doesn't matter.  The venality attached to the label is all that matters.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

BY USING THIS SITE, YOU AGREE TO THE TERMS OF USE AND PRIVACY POLICY.


Well, now that I find out this is available, I probably won't be available for weeks now.

Just thought you'd want to know.

Pity the semester has started; well, I'll grade those papers next month; or the month after.....

Sweet dreams and flyin' machines



Then again, the weekend talk shows make their nut on having people on who are never challenged by the hosts, unless said guest is not an Honorable Presence in D.C., or running on the ticket of a major party (or speaking for, in any tenuous way, such a person).

Because the moment a Sunday gasbag starts treating a "guest" (and doesn't THAT term tell you all you need to know?) the way the BBC treats political leaders (the iron fist in the velvet glove of the BBC "RP"), that show dries up and blows away, having lost all reason for existing.  The only place you won't see this is PBS, where they don't have a Sunday gasbag show.

So maybe the fantasy is that we'll go back to ignoring the Sunday gasbag shows because, really, if you can't call Chris Christie a liar to his face, of what use are you?

Well, maybe if we turn off the TeeVee:

In at least five articles in the New York Times on Sept. 17, including the lead story in the print edition, the words “lie,” “false,” “falsely claimed” and “untrue” appeared in headlines, lead paragraphs, and top sections of the paper’s Trump coverage. The day before, CNN’s Jake Tapper called Trump “the most prominent pusher of the birther lie,” the Associated Press reported that Trump “peddled another lie,” and a Washington Post headline declared, “It’s time for TV news to stop playing the stooge for Donald Trump.”

It’s a marked change in language, even for outlets that have aggressively reported on Trump’s appeals to violence and bigotry. And it’s especially startling coming from the ultra-traditional Times, which even in the new digital age remains a north star for much mainstream media coverage.

“I think our investigative work—see [the Sept. 17] story on Trump’s tax breaks—has always been hard hitting,” says Dean Baquet, the New York Times’ executive editor. “But we have decided to be more direct in calling things out when a candidate actually lies.”

The shift in language coincides with Trump’s reversal on his false, five-year-old claims that president Barack Obama was born outside the US, which came with a new fabrication on the topic: that his opponent, Hillary Clinton, started the rumors about Obama’s birthplace.

Says Baquet, “The birther issue represents, well, outright lying. And he lied over a long period. It is a real word and we will use it when warranted.”
If this becomes widespread, Chuck Todd won't know whether to shit or go blind.

OTOH, don't get too excited; another entry from the "Earth:  Round or Flat?  Opinions differ" Department of "Objective" Journalism:

These are the factors that Ryan said would determine the conditions under which the word is used:

■ It is not used for matters of opinion, but only when the facts are demonstrably clear.

■ Intentionality is important — in the case of Trump and birtherism, he repeated the lie for years, in the face of overwhelming facts that disproved it, suggesting this was a deliberate attempt by Trump to deceive.

■ It is not used to police more frivolous disputes among political candidates or political factions.

“Lie” is a loaded word, all right, a favorite of campaign operatives. You score every time you can get the media to catch your opponent in one, and it’s into the bonus round if you can get them to actually call it a “lie.”

Language of any sort is among the most powerful tools in politics. Consultants are specialists in what words to use — it’s called messaging — and it’s with careful consideration that news organizations make decisions about how and when they allow reporters and editors to use particular terms. The Associated Press, in one example, continues to cause a stir after it banned the phrases “climate deniers” and “climate skeptics” from its articles last year.

“Lie” falls into this general category, especially with Trump on the scene. It’s a loaded word, but in the case of Trump and birthers it passes my smell test. The Republican nominee has propagated a bogus claim about Obama’s nationality that is meant to undermine the nation’s first black president and ignite a strange political movement. Yet it is unequivocally false and Trump knows that.

I do like the "intentionality" requirement:  we can't judge by what they say, we must examine their hearts to know if they mean to speak truth or not.  Proving fraud in civil court is a snap compared to  that requirement.  As Charlie Pierce said:  "I swear, I spent a lot of my life around Jesuits, and damned if I can figure out how thinly Ryan and Spayd have sliced the salami here."  But it almost has one side, so that's pretty good, eh?

"Suckled on a creed outworn...."

I just liked the picture.

"So might I, standing on this pleasant lea...."