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, May 31, 2018

The Dog That Didn't Bark



I think what Samantha Bee said about Ivanka Trump was of dubious quality, and may have extended her critique from pointed to personal, but I don't think it is the equivalent of Roseanne Barr's tweet which got her fired.  And I came across a wonderful distillation of the difference between the two, in an editorial about Barr and Colin Kaepernick:

Barr’s now-deleted Twitter attack on Valerie Jarrett, “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj,” possessed zero redemptive value to offset the corporate pain. It wasn’t thoughtful — it was one of the most undistilled versions of racism you’ll ever read. It offered no attempt to engage with public policy or cultural controversy — it was purely ad hominem. In other words, it was both unprofessional and indecent.

Consider that penultimate sentence in full:  "It offered no attempt to engage with public policy or cultural controversy--it was purely ad hominem."  Here is what Bee said:

Bee said: “No, Donald Trump didn’t invent this issue – he’s just making it so much worse. Now everyone who even approaches the border is treated like a criminal.

She continued: “So now, after decades of ignoring the issue, Americans are finally paying attention. Well, most of us. Ivanka Trump, who works at the White House, chose to post the second most oblivious tweet we’ve seen this week.”

Bee, showing a photo Trump posted of her and her son, addressed the president’s daughter directly: “You know, Ivanka, that’s a beautiful photo of you and your child, but let me just say, one mother to another, do something about your dad’s immigration practices, you feckless cunt.”

Bee added: “He listens to you. Put on something tight and low-cut and tell your father to fucking stop it.”

Her comment wasn't a gratuitous swipe at Ivanka Trump because she is the daughter of the President. Her comment was aimed at a person employed in the White House on public business, and while using language like the "C" word in an e-mail would probably get your complaint rejected without further reading (context IS all), it is clear here why Bee used it and what she meant by it.  Barr was speaking racism to people afflicted by it on this continent for almost 4 centuries.  Bee was speaking truth to power, and aside from what might be considered an unfortunate term, her statement was about public policy and something the President wants to be cultural controversy.  What's funny is how nobody is offended by Bee advising Ivanka to dress in a sexually alluring way for her father in order to get his attention and make him change his mind.  Is there a reason all the critics of Bee accept that line silently?  Is it because they know how true it is? Or that they don't want to draw attention to that fact?  Because honestly, that's more offensive (only partly because it is so close to the truth); but nobody seems particularly offended by it.

That dog really won't get off the porch and hunt.*


(I remember the idea of a father being sexually attracted to his child as one of the more shocking, still, parts of Harlan Ellison's "A Boy and His Dog" (the protagonist uses it to escape the father who is his captor, if you're wondering).  And now we find it so commonplace for the President of the United States nobody even notices.  This matter of "normalization" is a troubling one, indeed.)

Your Questions Answered

Q:  Why doesn't Donald Trump just fire Jeff Sessions?

A: Because he doesn't have the balls.

A: Because he's not that stupid.

A: No, because he doesn't have the balls.

A: Yeah, that's it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

I Dunno, But I Been Told


I don't know the facts on this, but to all the people saying Roseanne Barr's firing was a moral act by ABC, let me remind you corporations are not people and by definition cannot be moral.

And aren't.

WAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!



Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.

"More earwax than brain"--Willie the Shake




Once again, for the light of understanding.  Even if Sessions had told Trump before his appointment of the conflict (and Sessions had no obligation to do so, or reason), the investigation would have continued. This is a DOJ investigation, not a Robert Mueller special. Mueller was appointed because Trump fired Comey, not because Sessions recused himself.  Had Trump appointed an AG without any conflicts, and that person had tried to shut down this investigation long before Mueller's appointment, a special prosecutor would have again been required, and the stench of mendacity and corruption would be even stronger.

QED. Further affiant sayeth nought. Respectfully submitted. And all that jazz.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

"Knockin' the dust off my shoes...."


Spygate? What is "Spygate"? I know no "Spygate".

But he is resolute in his resolution:

Monday, May 28, 2018

Memorial Day 2018 II




A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child?. . . .I do not know what it is any more than he.

I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.

Or I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we
may see and remark, and say Whose?

Or I guess the grass is itself a child. . . .the produced babe of the vegetation.

Or I guess it is a uniform hieroglyphic,
And it means, Sprouting alike in broad zones and narrow zones,
Growing among black folks as among white,
Kanuck, Tuckahoe, Congressman, Cuff, I give them the same, I receive them the same.

And now it seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,
It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,
It may be if I had known them I would have loved them;
It may be you are from old people and from women, and
from offspring taken soon out of their mother's laps,
And here you are the mother's laps.

This grass is very dark to be from the white heads of old mothers,
Darker than the colorless beards of old men,
Dark to come from under the faint red roofs of mouths.

O I perceive after all so many uttering tongues!
And I perceive they do not come from the roofs of mouths for nothing.

I wish I could translate the hints about the dead young men and women,
And the hints about old men and mothers, and the offspring taken soon out of their laps.

What do you think has become of the young and old men?
What do you think has become of the women and children?

They are alive and well somewhere;
The smallest sprouts show there is really no death,
And if ever there was it led forward life, and does not wait at the end to arrest it,
And ceased the moment life appeared.

All goes onward and outward. . . .and nothing collapses,
And to die is different from what any one supposed, and luckier.

--Walt Whitman



Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that "all men are created equal"

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow, this ground -- The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.

It is rather for us, the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

--Abraham Lincoln


Let us now sing the praises of famous men,
all the heroes of our nation's history,
through whom the Lord established his renown,
and revealed his majesty in each succeeding age. Some held sway over kingdoms
and made themselves a name by their exploits.
Others were sage counsellors,
who spoke out with prophetic power.
Some led the people by their counsels
and by their knowledge of the nation's law;
out of their fund of wisdom they gave instruction.
Some were composers of music or writers of poetry.
Others were endowed with wealth and strength,
living peacefully in their homes.
All these won fame in their own generation
and were the pride of their times.
Some there are who have left a name behind them
to be commemorated in story.
There are others who are unremembered;
they are dead, and it is as though they had never existed,
as though they had never been born
or left children to succeed them.
Not so our forefathers; they were men of loyalty,
whose good deeds have never been forgotten.
Their prosperity is handed on to their descendants,
and their inheritance to future generations.
Thanks to them their children are within the covenants-
the whole race of their descendants.
Their line will endure for all time,
and their fame will never be blotted out.
Their bodies are buried in peace,
but their name lives for ever.
Nations will recount their wisdom,
and God's people will sing their praises.

--Ecclesiasticus 44:1-15, NEB

Memorial Day 2018



My uncle fought in World War II; with the French Resistance, if memory serves.  Or maybe not. Maybe that was a grand embellishment by the family, or my own early imagination.  He never said anything about the war, or about war, to me; except once.

I went to visit him after I'd married and his kids, my age, my cousins I all but grew up with, had all married, too.  So it was just my wife and I and my aunt and uncle.  He picked us up at the airport.  I was reading Studs Terkel's then new book "The 'Good' War."  The quotes around good weren't too apparent in the cover design, and he asked me what I was reading this time (in those days I was always reading).  When I showed it to him, and told him it was about World War II, he said, "I didn't think there was such a thing as a 'good' war."  And he smiled; the kind of smile that always made me think he knew much more about much more than I did, or ever would.

My brother-in-law fought in Vietnam.  When everybody else was going to college so as not to get drafted, he volunteered.  He was Green Beret, and a Captain.  He never told me anything about Vietnam, either, except that when he first arrived there it was the most beautiful country he'd ever seen.  And within 10 minutes, he knew the U.S. had no business being there.  But he did his job; he followed orders.  He was a good soldier, and he's one of the finest men I know.  He's as kind, generous, and open-minded as anyone can be.

I have a recording of the "Airborne Symphony," by Marc Blitzstein.  Maybe it's the first performance, because the narrator is Orson Welles.  I always think of it this time of year, because the most poignant part of the libretto is the section about bombs, and the cities destroyed by planes.  It's "The Ballad of the Cities."  The narrator reads a partial list of cities destroyed by bombs, but the music moves into the "Morning Poem" with the chorus singing plaintively and repeatedly:  "Call the names.  Call the names.  Call the names."

It always seems to me the only appropriate observance of Memorial Day.  Call the names.




PEACE

O Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy upon us.
Thou that sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy upon us.
Arise, O Christ, and help us,
And deliver us for thy Name's sake.

AMEN.

O Christ, when thou didst open thine eyes on this fair earth, the angels greeted thee as the Prince of Peace and besought us to be of good will one toward another; but thy triumph is delayed and we are weary of war.

SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD AND MASTER.

O Christ, the very earth groans with pain as the feet of armed men march across her mangled form.

SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD AND MASTER.

O Christ, may the Church, whom thou didst love into life, not fail thee in her witness for the things for which thou didst live and die.

TEACH US TO DO THY HOLY WILL, O LORD AND MASTER.

O Christ, the people who are called by thy Name are separated from each other in thought and life; still our tumults, take away our vain imaginings, and grant to thy people at this time the courage to pro-claim the gospel of forgiveness, and faithfully to maintain the ministry of reconciliation.

TEACH US TO DO THY HOLY WILL, O LORD AND MASTER.

O Christ, come to us in our sore need and save us; 0 God, plead thine own cause and give us help, for vain is the help of man.

SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD AND MASTER.

O Christ of God, by thy birth in the stable, save us and help us;
By thy toil at the carpenter's bench, save us and help us;
By thy sinless life, save us and help us;
By thy cross and passion, save us and help us.

SAVE US AND HELP US, O LORD AND MASTER.

Then all shall join in the Lord's Prayer.

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

--The E&R Hymnal

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Whatever happened to "Spygate"?


 Well, that's an admission the Russians did interfere, but that's old news. Come to think of it, so is the slam on Obama and the FBI.

More old news. Still no Spygate.
You're not fooling anybody; and still, no Spygate.



Sounds like the later version was just a rerun of a rerun. Well, it is almost summer. Still: no Spygate.


THERE IT IS! But so long ago, and so clearly orphaned!  RIP Spygate. Sic transit gloria. 

UPDATE:

Reports of it's demise were premature?

No, apparently not:



Spygate, we hardly knew ye.

Oh, the places you'll go!


I love Raw Story just because of the happenstance of juxtaposition.  This morning I learn that:

No, you are not entitled to your own facts, not even in Silicon Valley.  And no, the internet is not going to usher in the new Millennium of peace, love and understanding.

It's a pity what divides can't unite us.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Time Will Indeed Tell (One Day Later)



The historic summit is now high on the agenda between the DPRK and the U.S., and the preparations for it are being pushed forward at the final stage amid the remarkably great concern of the world.

The sincere pursuit and active efforts made by the DPRK to end the relations of hostility and distrust that have lasted for decades and build a new landmark for the improvement of the DPRK-U.S. relations have commanded unanimous sympathy and support from the public at home and abroad.

But suddenly President of the United States of America Trump made public his official stand on May 24 to cancel the DPRK-U.S. summit that had already been made a fait accompli.
Explaining the reason for it, he said that the statement made by Vice Foreign Minister of the DPRK Choe Son Hui carried “tremendous anger and open hostility” and that it is not appropriate to hold the meeting at present, a precious one that has long been planned.

I would like to take this expression of his stand on the DPRK-U.S. summit as a decision not consistent with the desire of humankind for peace and stability in the world, to say nothing of those in the Korean peninsula.

As for the “tremendous anger and open hostility” referred to by President Trump, it is just a reaction to the unbridled remarks made by the U.S. side which has long pressed the DPRK unilaterally to scrap nuclear program ahead of the DPRK-U.S. summit.

The inglorious situation today is a vivid expression of the severity of the present status of the hostile DPRK-U.S. relations of long historical roots and the urgent necessity for the summit meeting for the improvement of the ties.

As far as the historic DPRK-U.S. summit is concerned, we have inwardly highly appreciated President Trump for having made the bold decision, which any other U.S. presidents dared not, and made efforts for such a crucial event as the summit.

His sudden and unilateral announcement to cancel the summit is something unexpected to us and we can not but feel great regret for it.

It is hard to guess the reasons. It could be that he lacked the will for the summit or he might not have felt confident. But for our part, we have exerted sincere efforts, raising hope that the historic DPRK-U.S. summit meeting and talks themselves would mark a meaningful starting point for peace and security in the region and the world and the improvement of the bilateral relations as the first step forward to settling the issue through dialogue.

We even inwardly hoped that what is called “Trump formula” would help clear both sides of their worries and comply with the requirements of our side and would be a wise way of substantial effect for settling the issue.

The chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK has also exerted all efforts for the preparations for the summit, saying that the meeting with President Trump could help make a good start.

The U.S. side’s unilateral announcement of the cancellation of the summit makes us think over if we were truly right to have made efforts for it and to have opted for the new path.

But we remain unchanged in our goal and will to do everything we could for peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and humankind, and we, broad-minded and open all the time, have the willingness to offer the U.S. side time and opportunity.

The first meeting would not solve all, but solving even one at a time in a phased way would make the relations get better rather than making them get worse. The U.S. should ponder over it.

We would like to make known to the U.S. side once again that we have the intent to sit with the U.S. side to solve problem regardless of ways at any time.
Oddly, the translation from Korean to English sounds more native than Trump's usual tweets.  For example:


And since Trump hates responsibility more than he hates CNN and MSNBC combined:


18 days away.  Yeah, we'll see.  He filmed an entire season of reality TV in less time, I'll warrant.  In the meantime, the world wonders:  what color is the sky on his planet? 

Still Wondering


Why is this offensive?  Because a black man is doing it?

I cannot imagine any other situation in which kneeling is considered an act as offensive as raising the middle finger or mooning, and yet there we are.

What the *F* is wrong with us?

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Too Much of a Muchness


No, not that Russian witch!

So, the day started with Trump cancelling the summit with North Korea because his bad cop/good cop/bad cop routine (John Bolton threatened the "Libya" sanction, Trump took it back, Mike Pence repeated the Libya threat, and NK said "That's enough!") either didn't work or did exactly what he wanted it to (no, I don't think Trump is that Machiavellian).  It started, in other words, with a letter so witless and poorly drafted it leaves one with the picture of Trump waiting for the phone to ring or the mail to arrive, hoping to hear from Kim.  The day went on to include:

During his formal announcement on withdrawing from a planned summit with North Korea, Trump said that both South Korea and Japan “are willing to shoulder much of the cost of any financial burden, any of the costs associated by the United States in operations” if the United States is “forced” to attack North Korea.

A statement during a formal announcement which, as far as I can tell, nobody is paying attention to today.  Hey, it's just Trump, amirite?  A day that left South Korea (at least) saying:  "Hey, man!  WTF?"


And none of this is the story dominating the news this afternoon.  That story is about how Trump's personal lawyer showed up at a meeting with DOJ representatives and a handful of Congressional representatives to hear the FBI explain when it stopped beating its wife:

How thin a disguise?
Through the looking glass doesn't begin to describe it.  Matthew Yglesias thinks we can learn from this:

Everyone in the Washington and media elite knew this but set aside all the evidence to believe that Trump is someone else and might actually take negotiations seriously and usher in a major diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea. The ultimate collapse of the summit is a valuable opportunity to try to make sure we do a better job next time, and not only take note of Trump’s lies and nonsense when his statements are proven to be dishonest nonsense but to be preemptively skeptical of new claims he makes.

I'm not holding my breath.  Because, among other things, we're still acting like kneeling, the ultimate act of submission, of reverence, of respect, is more offensive than mooning or raising a middle finger.  At least when it's done on a football field which, as we all know, is a holy space that cannot be denigrated by the sight of black men on bended knee.  The only thing black men should be doing on a football field is slamming into each other for our entertainment and at the behest of rich white men.

I'll retire to Bedlam....

WTF?

On the upside, these are collectors items now, right?

That Trump cancelled the North Korean Summit meeting is neither scary nor depressing.

That Trump said "mine is bigger than yours" is neither scary nor depressing.

What is scary and depressing is that the State Department apparently no longer functions:

If you change your mind having to do with this most important summit, please do not hesitate to call me or write.
This was not a business deal between two companies.  This was a diplomatic overture between two countries that don't have diplomatic relations or ordinary diplomatic channels of communication.  "Call me"?  Or "write"?

WTF?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Witches of High School


So somebody in Texas government (a state Rep., IIRC) was on the radio talking about school shootings and putting some of the burden on safety on the students themselves.  The theory was "if you see something, say something."  It was the usual litany:  mood swings, moodiness, loners, people who isolate themselves, people who seem emotionally troubled, people who, in other words, act like high school students and adolescents.  Such people must be reported as suspicious if we are ever to have safety in our schools again.

The parents of the shooter in Santa Fe insisted they were as surprised as anyone by their son's actions; until they declared he was the victim of bullying at school.  If the parents can't predict it, and don't understand it, how are the students supposed to?  The gunman at Sandy Hook presumably surprised his mother by shooting her in her sleep before going on his rampage.  Why are we so anxious to blame someone else for not seeing into the future, as if the answer were there for those "paying attention"?

The people I went to school with 50 years ago, were subject to mood swings and loneliness and emotional troubles; and certainly it would describe me, especially 50 years ago.  Oddly enough I was never either suicidal (despite making jokes about it; humor is a good way to defuse fear) or homicidal.  Even if I'd owned a gun, I grew up in a gun culture where gun safety, not gun possession or, Heaven forbid!, gun wielding, were emphasized.  I still say one of the biggest shifts in that 5 decade period is away from gun safety and toward rabid gun possession and the implied threat of usage; and the institution that changed from one to the other, is the NRA.

Coincidence?  I think not.

But getting back to this state rep. advising all the public school students in Texas to be suspicious of their classmates (you can't be too careful!  They might be Commies, too!) because we "know" what these shooters are like, right?  Or do we?

In the aftermath of the Columbine shooting in 1999, researchers at the U.S. Secret Service and Department of Education got together for a study of targeted school violence. Based on their review of 37 incidents that took place between 1974 and 2000, they concluded that attackers varied widely in their social competence. Just 12 percent lacked any close friends, while 34 percent were either characterized as “loners” or felt that way themselves. Meanwhile, 41 percent “appeared to socialize with mainstream students.”
I was a "loner" in junior high and high school; or would have identified myself that way.  I had a small coterie of friends (still keep in touch with some of them) and even a girlfriend (we married after college).  Maybe I appeared to be a loner; maybe I "appeared to socialize with mainstream students."  Either way, I was normal; as most school shooters are, apparently; until they decide to start firing.

The question is not:  are shooters really quiet, or not; really loners, or not; really isolated and even bullied, or not.  The question is:  do we even know what we're looking for?  After all, even the NRA thinks people who present a threat of harm to themselves or others, shouldn't have guns.  But we can't really identify those people until they've proven they are a threat to harm others.  At least we haven't so far.

And yet we think we know what these murderers are like, and that if we just paid attention, we'd spot 'em a mile away.  But what kind of witch hunt are we encouraging now?  And why are we doing it, except to avoid the responsibility for our failure to protect our children and to provide a society where this kind of thing is uncommon instead of common?

The problem is quite plainly in front of us, at least the problem that government could solve, and that is the problem of gun ownership.  Ammunition can be taxed and guns can be more tightly controlled. The father of the shooter in Santa Fe is now complaining that he is a victim, that his son's actions were a response to "bullying."  Under Texas law, he can't be held responsible for not keeping his shotgun in a gun safe, or not keeping a trigger lock on his pistol.  2nd Amendment rights, donchaknow?  We can take governmental actions to prevent this kind of gun violence, and it may take the kind of extremism the NRA has profited from for decades.  Charlton Heston famously intoned that you would pry his gun from this cold, dead fingers.  It is time to tell the NRA that can be arranged, because free and easy access to guns is making life in these United States untenable.  Had he not chickened out, we'd be prying the gun from the cold, dead hands of the Santa Fe shooter.  Would that have been an NRA victory?

We can do better than this.  And we can do better than to blame someone else, anyone else, for what we should be responsible for.  Parents are calling schools again, demanding action to keep their children safe.  How many of those parents own guns?  How many keep them unloaded and locked up, the ammunition locked away somewhere else?  "Guns don't kill people, people kill people," we've all been trained to say.  Nonsense.  People kill people with guns.  They are dangerous objects which must be handled carefully and intentionally.  The NRA used to preach this gospel regularly.  It is not "gun control" to insist gun owners treat their firearms they way we insist explosives be treated.  It is not a violation of the 2nd Amendment to control ammunition for guns they way we control fertilizer sales (the stuff McVeigh used in Oklahoma, which led to regulations and controls on its purchase).  It is not a "jack booted police state" which insists guns be used for hunting and for no other purpose; that guns be stored in a way they cannot be accessed by others; and if those demands mean gun owners can't afford the guns because they can't afford the gun safes and the trigger locks, then so be it.  The hue and cry is that there are too many guns "on the streets" and so there is nothing we can do. But few if any of the students involved in these shootings seem to be going to "the streets" to get armed; they find it easier to do at the house where they are living.

We can do something about that.

Nobody Was Talking About It!

What?  We didn't do anything!

Robert Mueller has issued 17 indictments and taken 5 guilty pleas; so far.

Yet despite what most Americans perceive to be a very steady drumbeat of Trump-Russia news, the majority of the public is completely unaware of these critical facts.

That suggests that the press as a whole has not done a good job of actually conveying factual information to our audience, that Democrats’ messaging on the investigation has not been clear enough on the most damning point (Trump, even if otherwise innocent, is guilty of hiring crooks and trying to prevent an investigation into their activity), and that Trump’s counterstrategy of muddying the waters around the investigation has been fairly successful.

Gosh, how did that happen, Lesley Stahl?

Stahl, who was speaking at the Deadline Club Awards in Manhattan, told the audience that she and a colleague had met with the then-President-elect at Trump Tower in order to prepare for the interview. At one point Trump started ranting against the press, and Stahl said she took the opportunity to ask him what the point of his attacks were.

“Why do you keep hammering at this?” she recounted to PBS’ Judy Woodruff.

According to Stahl, who was paraphrasing, Trump replied, “You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all, so when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.”

Looking stunned, Woodruff told Stahl, “We’re all absorbing what you just said.”
And maybe absorbing the fact it took her almost 2 years to say it?  Press complicity?  No, of course not!  They're just the megaphone, donchaknow!  They have a responsibility to remain "objective"!

Right?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Here We Go Again



Or:  American Public Discourse is Pathetic.

These distinctly American ideas became the often unintended instruments for splitting the country into two classes: the protected and the unprotected. The protected overmatched, overran and paralyzed the government. The unprotected were left even further behind. And in many cases, the work was done by a generation of smart, hungry strivers who benefited from one of the most American values of all: meritocracy.

Why, that has never happened in American history!  Oh, how far we have fallen from the grace that we inherited, an unbroken period of a country with no class distinctions become a country with two classes!  Now watch carefully as the legerdemain continues.  His hands never leave his sleeves!  Presto!

Yet key measures of the nation’s public engagement, satisfaction and confidence – voter turnout, knowledge of public-policy issues, faith that the next generation will fare better than the current one, and respect for basic institutions, especially the government – are far below what they were 50 years ago, and in many cases have reached near historic lows.

"Near historic lows" is the euphemistic way of saying we've been here before, and probably worse, so maybe this is more status quo than it is the end of the affair.  Rather like I keep saying about the number of people who declared themselves unaffiliated with a religion in the early 20th century; when the number of "nones" gets back to that level, it might merely mean we've returned to the trough of the wave.  And I am wondering how many plantation owners, poor whites, frontiersmen, and manual laborers in the 18th and 19th centuries, not to mention slaves, had much knowledge, if any, about "public policy issues" or "faith that the next generation will fare better than the current one" (that one is a post-war, as in WWII, invention.  It is as meritless as the claim we are a "Christian nation.")  But I digress; if I start questioning all the cliches in this, I'll never get anything else done.

It is difficult to argue that the cynicism is misplaced. From matters small – there are an average of 657 water-main breaks a day, for example – to large, it is clear that the country has gone into a tailspin over the last half-century, when John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier was about seizing the future, not trying to survive the present.

Kennedy was "seizing the future" 15 years after World War II turned America into an industrial dynamo (and nearly bankrupted the U.S. government, but in the end that didn't happen, so the historical picture is uniformly rosy about that war; at least it is 75 years later) and we bestrode the world as the New Colossus.  "Made in Japan" still meant "crappy and substandard," almost nothing was imported except maybe French wine, and Germany's contribution to American culture was the VW Beetle.

Times have changed, in other words.  Texas, for example, built public buildings like schools on oil field money.  It was still the Saudi Arabia of the world at the time, although Saudi Arabia was already taking over that position.  Without that money, Texas schools would be as bad off as they are today (I know a school district in once oil-rich East Texas that is still using a school building from the 1930's. It's high schools are 60 years old in one case, almost 50 years old in the other, and badly in need of replacement (at least one of them should have been replaced when I was there, almost 50 years ago.  It was a terrible design.).  Nobody wants to raise the money to do it because it's expensive and oil money won't pay for those things anymore.  The optimism of the '60's was because the rest of the world came to us for finance and industry and while that didn't last long, it was a heady experience that took almost two decades to start to falter.  Baby Boomers were born into that myth, one that lasted until the early '70's, when it started falling apart.  The optimism and enthusiasm of the Industrial Revolution never meant that all public projects benefited everybody, or even that they included the maintenance budgets they required.  We like our growth free and we still like to think it "pays for itself."  It doesn't, of course.  It never did.  Even the transcontinental railroad was government subsidized; even westward expansion was funded and promoted by the federal government, anxious to secure the ground before another nation did.  It paid off, but not without huge public investment.  But since Reagan we have convinced ourselves the public investment wasn't the key; and is it any accident that decision was made as blacks were claiming their place at the table?  It isn't just public school funding that was abandoned as segregated schools became unconstitutional.

But this is where it gets hilarious:

But there is a theme that threads through and ties together all the strands: many of the most talented, driven Americans used what makes America great–the First Amendment, due process, financial and legal ingenuity, free markets and free trade, meritocracy, even democracy itself–to chase the American Dream. And they won it, for themselves. Then, in a way unprecedented in history, they were able to consolidate their winnings, outsmart and co-opt the forces that might have reined them in, and pull up the ladder so more could not share in their success or challenge their primacy.

I actually heard Brill argue in a radio interview this morning that the problem with "meritocracy" is that it did away with gaining positions of power (in law firms, on Wall Street, etc.) based on playing on the right lacrosse team, and replaced it with intelligence.  So women and Jews now have access, but only the smartest ones.  Which, yes, is a problem, because intelligence is valued above all things, reason is the supreme good; but, as Brill only implies, how do you define "reason" and what does it lead to?  Utilitarianism?  At a minimum, it justifies those in power staying in power, having the power, wielding the power.  It only stands to reason; right?  Brill thinks the shift from Ivy League (nee British) class privilege to the merit based system of how well you did on the SAT's, is a fundamental one.  Try as I might, I can't see the difference; and my critique of either one is that neither promotes wisdom, which would require taking into account morality, and concepts like compassion, concepts like the first of all must be servant and last of all.

I'm sorry, did I say Brill became hilarious at that point?  I didn't read down far enough:

I played a role in this “antisocial” movement. In 1979, I started a magazine called the American Lawyer, which focused on the business of law firms and the intriguing questions lurking behind their elegant reception areas. Which ones were best managed? Which offered the most opportunity to women or minorities? Which were more likely to promote associates to partnership? Which had the fairest or most generous bonus systems? And, yes, which provided the highest profits for partners?

That last question resulted in the American Lawyer launching a special issue every summer, beginning in 1985, in which we deployed reporters to pierce the secrecy of these private partnerships so that the magazine could rank the revenues and average profits taken home by partners at the largest firms. When the first survey was published, I received a call from a former classmate who practiced at a large Los Angeles firm. He was outraged because he–and his wife–had found out that another classmate who worked at a seemingly fungible L.A. firm made about 25% more than he did. Until then, they had been perfectly happy with his six-figure income.

The fallout from this report and those from similar trade publications was significant and double-edged. The new flow-of-market information about these businesses made those who ran them more accountable to their partners, their employees and their clients, but it also transformed the practice of law by the country’s most talented lawyers in ways that had significant drawbacks. The emphasis was now fully on serving those clients who could pay the most.

I was working in a law firm in the '80's, when "American Lawyer" began to show up in the law library.  Most of the lawyers I knew regarded it as little more than a gossip rag.  The bigger impact on legal practice came from "Rambo" lawyers who, aping the attitude of Newt Gingrich (remember him?  Brill apparently doesn't), were flamboyantly combative in the courtroom, not often to the benefit of their clients, but very much to the benefit of themselves.  I encountered a lawyer like that when I was practicing.  She forced me to attend a hearing on a motion to withdraw (mine) as counsel for a client we'd lost touch with.  It should have been handled with an agreed order submitted to the clerk for a judge to sign, but she demanded a hearing, all so she could (a) bill her client for the time, and (b) impress upon her client what a warrior-lawyer she was.  The judge listened to me politely, turned to her and asked "Why shouldn't I grant this motion?"  It was all over at that point, but she took up as much time as she could, anyway.  Those were the lawyers we were all worrying about.  Transforming the practice of law to "serv[e] those clients who could pay the most" came out of Rambo litigating and other pressures on law firms to make as much money as possible (and to specialize.  The days of the genial generalist ended long before I came along.  I was lucky enough to know one such gentleman of the law.  He wouldn't be recognizable in a museum exhibit today.  HIs example has passed from all memory.).   I honestly never worked for a law firm that wasn't concerned with serving the clients who paid the biggest legal bills.  Steven Brill had nothing to do with that.  He might as well say the sun rises just to shine on him.

This is where Brill inevitably ends, as the quintessential Baby Boomer: with this misbegotten mea culpa, a humble brag about how important he is (He single-handedly ruined American legal practice!).  No, sorry.  Boomer were the first generation to be regarded as a generation, and yes, it went to their collective heads.  They thought (a handful of them, the wealthiest and most privileged, who could afford college and trips to the South to organize voters, or take time off for Woodstock without losing jobs or privileges when they came home) they were going to usher in the Age of Aquarius.  When they found out they (a) weren't that important, (b) weren't that much in control, and (c) were just as human as everyone else, they went back to being human beings, and the band played on.  All that talk about changing the world was easier on daddy's money; once they had to earn their own bread they sympathized with Harrison's anger in "Tax Man," and decided to once again engage in that fine American past-time of pulling up the ladder behind them.  Frankly, no generation before or since has championed civil rights and human rights and gender rights and equality for all as much as the Boomers did, but they never really got behind Dr. King's march of economic rights and economic equality (his "Dream" speech was not at a voting rights or civil rights march, but a march for economic justice; he died at a protest for living wages for garbage collectors).  Brill doesn't advocate for that, either.  He basically complains that the present looks too much like the past, when we were promised a New Jerusalem at last, courtesy of American ingenuity and Yankee capitalism, and where is our flying car, anyway?  (His book is titled Tailspin, do you see what I did, there?)  He even whines that the advances the '60's made, were turned against us in the '90's and afterward:

A landmark 1976 Supreme Court case brought by lawyers for consumer-rights activist Ralph Nader gave corporations that owned drugstores a First Amendment right to inform consumers by advertising their prices. In the years that followed, lawyers for the protected morphed that consumer-rights victory into a corporate free-speech movement. The result has been court decisions allowing unlimited corporate money to overwhelm democratic elections and other rulings allowing corporations to challenge regulations related to basic consumer-protection issues, like product labeling.

Oh, noes!  When in human history has such a thing ever happened?  When have good intentions led to bad consequences?  Who could have foreseen?  Damn you, Boomers, for not being prescient AND perfect!  He later quotes Daniel Markovits to underline his point:

“American meritocracy has thus become precisely what it was invented to combat,” Markovits concluded, “a mechanism for the dynastic transmission of wealth and privilege across generations. Meritocracy now constitutes a modern-day aristocracy.”
You mean the land of the free and home of the brave, built on xenophobia against the natives, and slaves imported from Africa, and the grudging and slow acceptance of "white" Europeans (who didn't start out "white"), but not of "brown" people from anywhere, built a system meant to establish the principle that all men [sic] are created equal, but created the opposite of that?  How are such things possible?

Damn you, Boomers!  It's because of you I still don't have my flying car!  Or a completely white Jetson's future!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

One Good Witch Hunt Deserves Another!

One question:  why can't he do it today?  Are the offices closed?  Would it interrupt his golf game?  Is his secretary with the Rolodex of phone numbers not available?

(And if you are wondering:  a)  no, it probably won't happen ("there are rules", i.e., the same reason Jeff Sessions recused himself from things touching on Russia and the Trump campaign) and b) there probably was no "spy," just the FBI "trying to figure out just what was going on between these Trump guys and Russia."  Trump can rail all he wants; it won't stop the slow, grinding mill wheels of the law he finds himself caught in.)

((Okay, now I'm piling on, because it just gets funnier:

“It’s opening Pandora’s Box in my view,” Callan told CNN’s Fredricka Whitfield. “First of all, the investigation would necessarily involve an investigation of what [special counsel Robert] Mueller is doing and whether Mueller’s investigation was, in part, based on an illegal infiltration of the Trump campaign. So, I think what would have to happen mechanically is you would need a second special prosecutor or independent counsel to do such an investigation.”

He went on to say that doing that would mean there would be two independent counsels looking into what happened with the Trump campaign. Callan noted that Trump likely hasn’t spoken to anyone to explain why this is a really bad idea for him. He predicted that when the “lawyers arrive” on Monday, Trump will likely change his tune.

"We'll see what happens," right?  I may need more popcorn.  Benjamin Wittes of Lawfare, has another analysis:


So maybe not popcorn; maybe whiskey.

I need to go to the store in the morning.  This IS something I can't do on Sunday.

 

Immoral Man and Moral Society


Reinhold Niebuhr famously argued that society could not ask its members to sacrifice their lives for the sake of a moral good.  Consider how we feel when parents claim the right to let children die of diseases they can be treated for, if you would understand the argument.  And then there's Lite Gov. Dan Patrick (truly "lite," considering what a failure he was in the last session):

“It is their faith in their fellow man, it is their faith in God and it is Texas coming together and standing strong,” Patrick opined. “And no one with a gun is going to walk into a school or anywhere else and bring our state to our knees. We will stand strong and we will stand together.”

In all honesty, if this horror doesn't bring you to your knees, you're doing it wrong.  But Patrick's argument is that we must sacrifice somebody else's children in order to remain true to the "morality" of "2nd Amendment rights." 

Guns “are a part of who we are as a nation,” Patrick told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. “It is our Second Amendment.”

“You know, talking about a ‘well run militia,’ our Second Amendment, teachers are part of that well run militia, by the way,” Patrick insisted, condescendingly. 

Except the Constitution speaks of a "well-regulated militia," and no, teachers are not a part of that.  But apparently we are not persons, or parents, or children; more importantly, as a nation, we are guns.  Guns 'R' Us.  (And yes, two teachers died at Santa Fe.)

Of course, he's selective about his moral outrage:

“We have devalued life, whether it’s through abortion, whether it’s the breakup of families, through violent movies, and particularly violent video games which now outsell movies and music,” he said.

VERY selective:

The Friday shooting at Santa Fe High School was believed to have been carried out with the gunman’s father’s pistol and shotgun. Responding to the shooting, Patrick urged gun-owning parents to “lock your guns safely away.”

“Should that be law?” CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Patrick in an interview Sunday.

“In many cases, there are laws, depending on the states, and I’m sure there is some federal law regarding your culpability in a crime using a gun if it is your gun, or if you own a gun,” Patrick responded.

Texas law, as in many other states, does impose some liability on adults who, through criminal negligence, allow children access to firearms they own. But the law applies to children under 17 years old — the alleged Santa Fe shooter was 17. The Austin American-Statesman found in 2015 that the so-called Child Access Prevention law had only resulted in 61 convictions since its implementation in the state in 1995.

Like most other states, Texas does not require guns to be locked or kept in a safe once in their owner’s possession — so called “safe storage” laws.

Tapper tried again: “Should it be law that you have to lock up your guns?”

“Again, Jake, depending on the state, I’d have to look at it–” Patrick began.

“What about Texas?” Tapper pressed.

“In Texas, again, we hold you very responsible if you are a gun owner,” the lieutenant governor responded. “For example, I’m a concealed carry, as are almost 1 million Texans. If I use my gun to stop a crime or to defend myself, and I fire a bullet that goes astray and strikes somebody else, I can be held not only civilly but criminally liable.”

Tapper tied once more: “There isn’t a law requiring safe storage.”

“Jake, Jake– ” Patrick began. “I didn’t come on with you this morning to go through the entire penal code of the federal government or the state.” 
The Moral Compass of the 2nd Amendment means some children must die to water the Tree of Gun Liberty.

Let us close with the response to Lite Guv. Patrick's remarks by the father of a child slain at Parkland:

“I think those are the most idiotic comments I’ve ever heard regarding gun safety,” Guttenberg said. “Let me be clear, he should be removed from office for his failure to what to protect the citizens of Texas. To hear him continue to make the argument — after 10 people died in his state — that guns are not the issue is simply a crock."

 “Those are idiotic comments. I’m raging right now. I’m here this weekend at what was supposed to be my daughter’s dance recital, where they’re honoring my daughter’s memory instead of having my daughter dance. And for that man to make those moronic comments, unacceptable!”

Saturday, May 19, 2018

In Our Policies We Trust!


Yeah, I'm not through yet:

The school district had an ­active-shooter plan, and two armed police officers walked the halls of the high school. School district leaders had even agreed last fall to eventually arm teachers and staff under the state’s school marshal program, one of the country’s most aggressive and controversial policies intended to get more guns into classrooms.

They thought they were a hardened target, part of what’s expected today of the American public high school in an age when school shootings occur with alarming frequency. And so a death toll of 10 was a tragic sign of failure and needing to do more, but also a sign, to some, that it could have been much worse.

“My first indication is that our policies and procedures worked,” J.R. “Rusty” Norman, president of the school district’s board of trustees, said Saturday, standing exhausted at his front door. “Having said that, the way things are, if someone wants to get into a school to create havoc, they can do it.”

a)  NEVER say, when 10 people are dead, 9 of them students, one of them a teacher, and 10 more wounded, some of whom may yet did, that "our policies and procedures worked."  Because all you are saying is:  your policies and procedures are worthless.  Which they are but, do you really want to admit that?

b)  I suppose "if someone wants to get into a school to create havoc, they can do it."  So maybe the issue is:  why do they want to create havoc, and what can we do about that?  Maybe more importantly from a governmental point of view, what can we do to keep them from gaining the instruments to create such havoc?  Build walls?  More policies and procedures?  Yeah, I'm not seeing that as a viable answer anymore.

Norman said he saw school security as a way to control, not prevent, school violence. And the school district had some practice. In February, two weeks after the Parkland shooting, Santa Fe High went into lockdown after a false alarm of an active-shooter situation, resulting in a huge emergency response. The school won a statewide award for its safety program.

“We can never be over-prepared,” Norman said. “But we were prepared.”

His school board approved a plan in November to allow some school staff members to carry guns, joining more than 170 school districts in Texas that have made similar plans. But Santa Fe was still working on it, Norman said. People needed to be trained. Details needed to be worked out, such as a requirement that school guns fire only frangible bullets, which break into small pieces and are unlikely to pass through victims, as a way to limit the danger to innocent students.

All of these efforts, Norman said, are “only a way to mitigate what is happening.”

Sheer fucking genius.  So the student was right, it's happening everywhere, and get used to it?  10 is bad, but it could have been worse, so hey!  The system worked?  And besides, it's not your problem because school security can't do everything?  Well, on that we would agree.  Still, hardly the time for this conversation, I have to say.

WaPo even talked to the people of Santa Fe, who don't blame guns for this horror; but they don't know who to blame.  However, the burden of this problem is not on the people of Santa Fe.  The burden of this problem is on the children of America, and the parents of the children of America.  Will we continue to tell them there is nothing we can do except more security theater?  More guns in classrooms with bullets that hopefully won't do too much damage to the innocent, but somehow stop the guilty at the same time?  More walls, fewer doors, more guards and fear because we can't do anything about the chaos except to mitigate it?

I used to wonder just why apocalyptic stories where the near future is a dystopian hellscape full of death and perseverance only by the most brutal violence were so commonplace.  Now I know:  it's merely the present reflected back at us in art.  This is our legacy, and our bequest to our heirs.

God help us all, for we seem unable to help ourselves.

The Most Decent Public Figure in Texas



Houston Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt told officials at Santa Fe High School that he will pay funeral costs for the victims of Friday’s mass shooting, according to multiple reports.

Funny thing, I'm old enough to remember when we had a national organization dedicated to gun safety and the safe storage of guns so they wouldn't be used to harm others.  Wonder whatever happened to them.....?

As for all the Texas politicians in front of microphones yesterday, why is it Texas sports figures are more eloquent on this subject?

Following Friday morning’s shooting at Santa Fe High School, Astros manager A.J. Hinch said he “doesn’t want to offer any more condolences.”

“I want to find answers,” Hinch said, ending an impassioned, two-minute discourse about the day’s events.

The father of two teenage daughters, Hinch spoke uninterrupted for nearly a minute before he was asked if his anger stems from the frequency with which school shootings are occuring.

“Lives are being lost for no real, good reason,” Hinch said. “There’s never a good reason. My anger is because I have kids and I can appreciate how terrible everyone has to feel … I don’t have the words. I’m here in front of a bunch of cameras trying to make people feel better when I don’t think the situation should ever happen.

“There’s no reason for our schools to be combat zones. And it’s turning that way.”

"It makes me angry," Hinch said. "I'm tired of talking about these situations. I know you guys have to ask and we have to respond, but it's heartbreaking."

“You can copy and paste this answer for the next time it happens because we feel like there’s something happening on a routine basis that’s idiotic and terrible and miserable,” he added. “I hope we can somehow find a way to get past it, for one, offer our condolences to the people affected and, more importantly, figure out a way to stop this madness. I don’t have any words, anything I say is hollow when it comes to the parents that took their kids to school or watched their kids get in their cars to their high school and they’re not coming home. It makes me sick”


Friday, May 18, 2018

As trex asked: "What else is there to say?"

“How long, O LORD, will I call for help,
And You will not hear?
I cry out to You, “Violence!”
Yet You do not save.

Why do You make me see iniquity,
And cause me to look on wickedness?
Yes, destruction and violence are before me;
Strife exists and contention arises.

Therefore the law is ignored
And justice is never upheld.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
Therefore justice comes out perverted.

You have devised a shameful thing for your house
By cutting off many peoples;
So you are sinning against yourself.

Surely the stone will cry out from the wall,
And the rafter will answer it from the framework.

“Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed
And founds a town with violence!”

Habbakuk 1:2-4, 2:9-12



”When I would comfort myself against sorrow, my heart is faint in me.

Behold the voice of the cry of the daughter of my people because of them that dwell in a far country: Is not the LORD in Zion? is not her king in her? Why have they provoked me to anger with their graven images, and with strange vanities?

The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.

For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black; astonishment hath taken hold on me.

Is there no balm in Gil'ead? is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?

Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!

Jeremiah 8:18-22, 9:1



The hand of the LORD came upon me, and he led me out in the spirit of the LORD and set me in the center of the plain, which was now filled with bones.
He made me walk among them in every direction so that I saw how many they were on the surface of the plain. How dry they were!
He asked me: Son of man, can these bones come to life? "Lord GOD," I answered, "you alone know that."
Then he said to me: Prophesy over these bones, and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!
Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: See! I will bring spirit into you, that you may come to life.
I will put sinews upon you, make flesh grow over you, cover you with skin, and put spirit in you so that you may come to life and know that I am the LORD.
I prophesied as I had been told, and even as I was prophesying I heard a noise; it was a rattling as the bones came together, bone joining bone.
I saw the sinews and the flesh come upon them, and the skin cover them, but there was no spirit in them.
Then he said to me: Prophesy to the spirit, prophesy, son of man, and say to the spirit: Thus says the Lord GOD: From the four winds come, O spirit, and breathe into these slain that they may come to life.
I prophesied as he told me, and the spirit came into them; they came alive and stood upright, a vast army.
Then he said to me: Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They have been saying, "Our bones are dried up, our hope is lost, and we are cut off."
Therefore, prophesy and say to them: Thus says the Lord GOD: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel.
Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people!
I will put my spirit in you that you may live, and I will settle you upon your land; thus you shall know that I am the LORD. I have promised, and I will do it, says the LORD.

Ezekiel 37:1-14

More Shootings Bringing Thoughts and Prayers


Yeah, I know; it's viral already.  But Jesus Fuck, what the hell is wrong with us?  I was in the car and heard, I presume it was the Governor, on another press conference (I turned the first one off 3 hours earlier because it was nothing but "thoughts and prayers" by every public official who wanted to be in front of a microphone in Santa Fe, but had nothing to say.), calling for public meetings to hear from everyone, parents and "2nd Amendment defenders" (they got mentioned twice; gee, I wonder why?) and how Texas needs to do something about this.

I'm with this poor child.  Nothing will happen.  "It's been happening everywhere."  And nobody is doing a damned thing about it. 

That's how Trump followed up his previous tweet about this (no, I haven't skipped one.)  He avoided "thoughts and prayers," but it's really all he has to offer.

"I always felt it would eventually happen here, too."

Goddamnit, every adult American should hang their head in shame at those words.

What do we say to them now?  That we have a 2nd Amendment, and it means more than their lives and their safety and their well-being?

Fuck that.

The Governor has promised we'll talk about it!

Addendum:  the Lite Gov. (Dan Patrick-R., Asshole) says we should redesign all our schools to be prisons:  one entrance/exit per school.  Because everybody wants to line up and go single file through the metal door in the concrete wall to get to the building and the playground, and because our schools which are running out of operating funds thanks to the Texas Legislature's inability to figure out how to fund education in Texas and not charge anybody any taxes whatsoever (especially business!), should raise the money to build walls around all their schools.  The Governor's promise to talk about it seems suddenly more sensible.

Gonna keep it up awhile:

Pictures like this just bring me to tears.



"It's been happening everywhere."  Fuck Greg Abbott.  Fuck Dan Patrick; and the horses they rode in on.  This shouldn't happen anywhere.  Fuck talking about it.  DO SOMETHING!  This is why you wanted to be elected, why you wanted to be in power; you say every four years that you have all the answers.  Function like a government, goddamnit!  "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men."  Was that not plain enough for you?  Do these sound like the opening words to a suicide pact, or a commitment to sacrifice our children to a stupid and illogical notion of a very, VERY particular kind of freedom?  "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."  Your POSTERITY, you motherfuckers!  Our Children!!!!!  We should not be grieving our children because they went to school today!!!!!!!

LEAD, FOLLOW, OR GET THE HELL OUTTA THE WAY!  Time's fuckin' up for talk, you assholes.  And blaming school architecture is the exact OPPOSITE of a solution!

Idiots.

Keepin' it comin':

And because that tweet caused a minor dustup about the efficacy of prayers, this from the Conference Minister for the South Central Conference of the UCC, on the Santa Fe Shooting:

So we pray for those who have been damaged and killed. We pray as well for the perpetrators and their families for there is surely illness of some king in the mix here. We pray finally for our leaders that they will take definitive action at long last.

From him I accept a call for prayers; especially prayers directed at accomplishing something, instead of just as an anodyne for pain.