Adventus

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

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

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

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Presidenting is hard!

Just this...

...and this:
Should be enough to keep you awake until January 20, 2021.

"Busy, busy, busy, busy!"--Satan to John Constantine

Yeah, how's that working out?
I don't remember Clinton playing golf, either:

November 30: The Approach of Advent


CONDITOR alme siderum,
Aeterna lux credentium,
Christe Redemptor omnium,
Exaudi preces supplicum:

Qui condolens interitu
Mortis perire saeculum,
Salvasti mundum languidum,
Donans reis remedium,

Vergente mundi vespere,
Uti sponsus de thalamo,
Egressus honestissima
Virginis matris clausula.

Cujus forti potentiae
Genu curvantur omnia
Caelestia, terrestria,
Nutu fatentur subdita.

Te deprecamur, hagie,
Venture judex saeculi,
Conserva nos in tempore
Hostis a telo perfidi.

CREATOR of the stars of night,
Your people's everlasting light,
O Christ, Redeemer of us all,
We pray you hear us when we call.

In sorrow that the ancient curse
Should doom to death a universe,
You came, 0 Savior, to set free
Your own in glorious liberty.

Come, Sun and Savior, to embrace
Our gloomy world, its weary race,
As groom to bride, as bride to groom:
The wedding chamber, Mary's womb.

At your great Name, 0 Jesus, now
All knees must bend, all hearts must bow;
All things on earth with one accord,
Like those in heav'n, shall call you Lord.

Come in your holy might, we pray,
Redeem us for eternal day;
Defend us while we dwell below,
From all assaults of our dread foe.


FOR many, Advent would not be Advent if introduced by any other hymn. It is well-nigh impossible for even the best of poets to find a formula that really corresponds to the first line of the Latin text. The Latin "sidus" ["siderum"] means more than "star." It includes the stars, of course, but also sun and moon and planets and all the heavenly constel-lations and comets and meteors. These are the cosmic elements that will appear in later stanzas of the hymn. For the ancients, these mysterious heavenly bodies that moved about and that had their cycles of waxing and waning and that in some unfathomable way could affect the course of human destiny-these heavenly bodies were perhaps living beings.

The opening line of this Advent hymn should make us think of the great array of all the powerful cosmic bodies that figure in those eschatological texts of scripture where the whole of the created universe responds to the presence of its God. The point of reference is not some lovely nightfall scene studded with gently glimmering stars, but rather that Great Day when "the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give her light, the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken" (Matthew 24:29). Indeed, this Advent hymn, if we really look at it, is something of a "Dies irae" in a less strident mode.

In stanza three, the world's evening draws to a close. We recognize in the last three lines of this stanza the allusion to verse six of Psalm 19, the verse that occurs so frequently in the Christmastide cycle: "And he, as a bridegroom coming forth from the bridal chamber, rejoices as a giant to run his course." So just when the world seems doomed to certain extinction, the Sun comes forth in a blaze of light and begins its paschal journey across the whole of human life and experience. This imagery is especially appropriate towards the beginning of December and the first Sunday of Advent, when nights are growing progressively longer and longer, until, upon the arrival of the winter solstice just before Christmas, the inexorable onslaught of darkness is reversed with the birth of Christ, the Sun of Justice, who now begins to run his course over the whole of our existence.--Chrysogonous Waddell


WHEN the Man of Heaven comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, "Come, 0 blessed of my Father, inherit the realm prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me." Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?" And the king will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did to one of the littlest of these my dear people, you did it to me." Then the king will say to those at his left hand, "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and the devil's angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me." Then they also will answer, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?" Then he will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it notto one ofthe littlest of these, you did it not to me." And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

--Matthew 25:31-46

Friday, November 29, 2019

Is This A Great Country, or What?

The key facts in this story are: a) the ER doctor had the right length of forceps (tweezers to the laity) to get the show out; b) the parents went to a clinic first, and we're directed to the ER; c) of no comfort to any parent, the nose is a cavern where small objects like shoes can be lost if pushed in too far; d) that truth is pushed aside by the recommendation parents wait until morning to go to a pediatrician who probably has the right forceps (but if the object is already too far in to remove easily, what parent is going to shrug and say it will cost too much, go to bed and hope it doesn't move?).

I'm not faulting the reporting here, I'm faulting the insurance system. The insurance co. says the family shouldn't have gone to the ER. Various experts weigh in with advice for what persons similarly situated, with the benefit of hindsight (the shoe was removed in a few seconds, not after surgery), should do, as well as how to haggle with the insurance company and hospital (everyone has time for that, right?). In short, the system doesn't serve you; you must serve the system. And doctors don't serve you; they serve the system, to which you are responsible.

At least you get to choose your doctor. Whether your choice is considered wise by the system, whether your choice is made at the right time, whether the system can (or will) even explain why you must pay what the system charges, is not the fault of the system. Somehow, whatever is wrong with the system is always your fault.

Besides, the only alternative is socialism. Right?

Dorothy Day November 29


A brother said to an old man:  There are two brothers.  One of them stays in his cell quietly, fasting for six days at a time, and imposing on himself a good deal of discipline, and the other serves the sick.  Which one of them is more acceptable to God?  The old man replied:  Even if the brother who fasts six days were to hang himself by the nose, he could not equal the one who serves the sick.

--Desert Wisdom

"ALICE Paul, the suffragist leader, had gold pins made, depicting prison bars, to give to those who went to jail with her in the second decade of this century. Dorothy Day was given one of those pins; but I would bet she did not have it when she died this week. She was not good at owning things. She was good at giving things away, including her-self. It is the only way, finally, to own oneself.

"In her own and this century's teens she was an ardent defender of other people's rights. She continued to speak up for the unprotected when no one else would do that. During World War II, her protests at the internment without due process of Japanese-Americans caused j. Edgar Hoover to open his extensive file on her. Without her, how much bleaker would be our record. She fed the poor, which may not be the Christian's final task, but should normally be the first one.

"She was the long-distance runner of protest in our time, because her agitation was built on serenity, her activism on contemplation, her earthly indignation on unearthly trust. This or that cause, with its noisy followers, came and went, but she was always there. "Rest in peace," one prays over the dead; but she reposed in restlessness, so long as there was no peace-and her moral discontent should be continued. Let her rest in our disquietude.

"Dorothy Day showed us . . . that people who stand with and for others cannot act from a calculus of individual advantage. They must act as they do from a higher urgency, a love beyond what most of us think of as loving. So far from distracting them from earth's injustice, as Marx claimed religion did, Dorothy Day's faith made effective radicalism not only possible, for many people, but imperative. We may not even be able to possess the earth unless we aspire to heaven-like our sister, who is dead and lives. "

--Gary Wills

In each of our lives Jesus comes as the bread of life--to be eaten, to be consumed by us.  This is how he loves us.  Then Jesus comes in our human life as the hungry one, the other, hoping to be fed with the bread of our life, our hearts loving, and our hands serving.  In loving and serving, we prove that we have been created in the likeness of God, for God is love and when we love we are like God.  This is what Jesus meant when he said, "Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect."

--Mother Teresa of Calcutta

This morning to ward off the noise I have my radio on---Berlioz, Schubert, Chopin, etc.  It is not a distraction, it is a pacifier.  As St. Teresa of Avila said as she grabbed her castanets and started to dance during the hour of recreation in her unheated convent, "One must do something to make life bearable!"

I feel that all families should have the conveniences and comforts which modern living brings and which do simplify life, and give time to read, to study, to think, and to pray.  And to work in the apostolate, too.  But poverty is my vocation, to live as simply and poorly as I can, and never to cease talking and writing of poverty and destitution.  Here and everywhere.  "While there are poor, I am of them.  While men are in prison, I am not free," as Debs said and as we often quote.

--Dorothy Day

Living Rent Free In Your Head

Dahlia Lithwick is seeing monsters under the bed again.  Now she's afraid Trump will never leave office because, basically, Trump; oh, and our long national nightmare, from which we will never awaken.  That's about as much reason as she brings to her argument, which never says exactly how Trump will maintain his office in perpetuity and the face of an electoral defeat, but she's sure he will.

Actually, the problem is not: will Trump leave office? The question is: will his claim to the office be recognized as legitimate?

Unless the election results in a Bush v. Gore standoff, how does the Supreme Court get involved? They threatened their legitimacy then; how much worse would it be if they supported Trump's likely (and still groundless) claims of voter fraud and millions of non-citizens voting against him?

Will Congress recognize his claim? The House won't; what about the Senate? This won't, after all, be up to the military; unless there is a military coup first. Trump may imagine he's bought that with the SEALs, but even the troops under Gallagher thought he was dangerous. 4 ex-SEALs does not a revolution make.

If Trump loses, he loses legitimacy, too. Without that, what authority does he have? What shield, even, does he have from prosecutions? Barr may not charge him, but nothing would stop New York state from doing so. Will Marines protect Trump from arrest? Will U.S. Marshals? Trump can scream all he wants, but if no one listens? I mean, this is the guy our soldiers will follow into constitutional anarchy?

“We flew 8331 miles to be here tonight for one simple reason, to tell you in person that this Thanksgiving is a special Thanksgiving,” said Trump. “We’re doing so well. Our country is the strongest economically it has ever been. We’ve never done so well. We have the greatest economy anywhere in the world. So it is nice to know that you are fighting for something that is doing well as opposed to something that was not doing well just a number of years ago.”

“Our stock market has reached the highest level ever in the history of the exchanges, all three,” continued Trump. “If you look, all three. It is incredible. It is incredible what is happening. Just broke a record. I think it is close to 130 days. So we’re less than three years and 130 times we’ve broken the all-time record. And to me that didn’t mean an all-time record, it means something different. It means jobs. It means 401(k)s. People come up to me with their 401(k)s and they say, ‘You’ve made me look like a genius. Thank you very much.’ They are up 78 percent. They feel good.”  
One sentence about how he got there, the rest is gobbledygook about people coming up to him because that's what people do the the President all the time, the Secret Service just lets it happen.  Or maybe it's the people at Mar-a-Lago, except I doubt any of them has a 401(k). (and Afghanistan is just under 7000 miles from D.C., FWIW).

If that didn't rouse our troops to proclaim Trump Most Excellent President-for-Life, surely this did:
Yeah, I don't think so, either.  But I'm sure Trump's an expert on space; his head seems to be full of it.

Because, yup

And it won't even be a ripple in the news.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

And the dog was MALE!


No, seriously; that was a controversy:
 
Your tax dollars at work.

Thanksgiving 2019


Deuteronomy 26:1-11
26:1 When you have come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it,

26:2 you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his name.

26:3 You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, "Today I declare to the LORD your God that I have come into the land that the LORD swore to our ancestors to give us."

26:4 When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the LORD your God,

26:5 you shall make this response before the LORD your God: "A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous.

26:6 When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us,

26:7 we cried to the LORD, the God of our ancestors; the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression.

26:8 The LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders;

26:9 and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.

26:10 So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O LORD, have given me." You shall set it down before the LORD your God and bow down before the LORD your God.

26:11 Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house.

Psalm 100
100:1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth.

100:2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come into his presence with singing.

100:3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name.

100:5 For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.


PRAISE AND HARVEST

Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, from whom cometh every good and pefect gift, we call to remembrance thy loving-kindness and the tender mercies which have been ever of old, and with grateful hearts we would lift up to thee the voice of our thanksgiving,

For all the gifts which thou hast bestowed upon us; for the life thou hast given us, and the world in which we live,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

For the work we are enabled to do, and the truth we are permitted to learn; for whatever of good there has been in our past lives, and for all the hopes and aspirations which lead us on toward better things,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

For the order and constancy of nature; for the beauty and bounty of the world; for day and night, summer and winter, seed-time and harvest; for the varied gifts of loveliness and use which every season brings,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

For all the comforts and gladness of life; for our homes and all our home-blessings; for our friends and all pure pleasure; for the love, sympathy, and good will of men,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

For all the blessings of civilization, wise government and legislation; for education, and all the privileges we enjoy through literature, science, and art; for the help and counsel of those who are wiser and better than ourselves,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

For all true knowledge of thee and the world in which we live, and the life of truth and righteousness and divine communion to which thou hast called us; for prophets and apostles, and all earnest seekers after truth; for all lovers and helpers of mankind, and all godly and gifted men and women,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

For the gift of thy Son Jesus Christ, and all the helps and hopes which are ours as his disciples; for the presence and inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, for all the ministries of thy truth and grace,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

For communion with thee, the Father of our spirits; for the light and peace that are gained through trust and obedience, and the darkness and disquietude which befall us when we disobey thy laws and follow our lower desires and selfish passions,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

For the desire and power to help others; for every opportunity of serving our generation according to thy will, and manifesting the grace of Christ to men,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

For all the discipline of life; for the tasks and trials by which we are trained to patience, self-knowledge and self-conquest, and brought into closer sympathy with our suffering brethren; for troubles which have lifted us nearer to thee and drawn us into deeper fellowship with Jesus Christ,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

For the sacred and tender ties which bind us to the unseen world; for the faith which dispels the shadows of earth, and fills the saddest and the last moments of life with the light of an immortal hope.
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

God of all grace and love, we have praised thee with our lips; grant that we may praise thee also in consecrated and faithful lives. And may the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, our Strength and our Redeemer.
AMEN.


THANKSGIVING

Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift, we call to remembrance they loving-kindness and they tender mercies which have ever been od old, and with grateful hearts we would lift up to the the voice of our thanksgiving.

For all the gifts which thou has bestowed upon us; for the life that thou hast given us, and the world in which we life,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

For the work we are enabled to do, and the truth we are permitted to learn; for whatever of good there has been in our past lives, and for all the hopes and aspirations which lead us on to better things,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

For the order and constancy of nature; for the beauty and bounty of the world; for day and night, summer and winter, seed-time and harvest; for the varied gifts of loveliness and use which every season brings,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

For all the comforts and gladness of life; for our homes and all our home-blessings; for our friends and all pure pleasure; for the love, sympathy, and good will of men,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

For all the blessings of civilization, wise government and legislation; for education, and all the privileges we enjoy through literature, science, and art; for the help and counsel oj those who are wiser and better than ourselves,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

For all true knowledge of thee and the world in which we live, and the life of truth and righteousness and divine communion to which thou hast called us; for prophets and apostles, and all earnest seekers after truth; for all lovers and helpers of mankind, and all godly and gifted men and women,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

For the gift of thy Son Jesus Christ, and all the helps and hopes which are ours as his disciples; for the presence and inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, for all the ministries of thy truth and grace,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

For communion with thee, the Father of our spirits; for the light and peace that are gained through trust and obedience, and the darkness and disquietude which befall us when we disobey thy laws and follow our lower desires and selfish passions,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

For the desire and power to help others; for every opportunity of serving our generation according to thy will, and manifesting the face of Christ to men,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

For all the discipline of life; for the tasks and trials by which we are ained to patience, self-knowledge and self-conquest, and brought into closer sympathy with our suffering brethren; for troubles which have lifted us nearer to thee and drawn us into deeper fellowship with Jesus Christ,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

For the sacred and tender ties which bind us to the unseen world; for the faith which dispels the shadows of earth, and fills the saddest and the last moments of life with the light of an immortal hope,
WE PRAISE THEE, O GOD.

God all all grace and love, we have praised thee with our lips; grant that we may praise thee with also in consecrated and faithful lives. And may the words of our mouth and the meditations of our heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, our Strength and our Redeemer.

AMEN.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Because Its Never Bad Enough

...it can't be made worse.

"I don't know. Nor do you."

The DOJ is entitled to its opinion, right? Word is, and all that.

Like Pounding Sand


I know it's over before it started, but just to underline the "power" of FoxNews:

In recent weeks, Fox News’ opinion shows have run countless segments insisting that liberals and progressives want to “cancel” the holiday and fight a “War on Thanksgiving,” tying it all to a single HuffPost opinion piece about the environmental impact of Thanksgiving dinner. The article, while providing readers with steps to reduce their carbon footprint, never called for the holiday to be abolished or even for Americans to stop celebrating it.

And yet, avid consumer of news that I am, I'd barely heard about this, and it's only become "a thing" today, because Trump mentioned it last night, and reportedly FoxNews is running with it all day today.

Quite a few days late, as I mentioned before.  And really, if FoxNews was driving the nation's national discussion, why is this only gaining currency (such as it is) now?  "War on Christmas" did quite well without Trump, for years (my first reference to it goes back to 2005. If my archives are any indication, it was pretty much over by 2012, and nothing but a joke/cliche by 2015.).  As Donne said of death, "Why swells't thou, then?"

Even the turkey has more reason to spread his fan.

You want a war, muthafucker?



And points for referencing one of my favorite Xmas films (it has nothing to do with Xmas except the setting), and for being the last word (finally!) on this nonsense, because tomorrow we eat!
Of course, the problem for Fox is, after today, nobody cares.

Once again: He can do it


But should he?

Especially when it's this easy.


As I Thought


Trump went to Walter Reed because he doesn't trust any of the White House staff.  There was a medical problem, no doubt.  But how many D.C. reporters have contacts at Walter Reed?  In fact, how small is the circle at Walter Reed of those who would know why Trump was there?  Probably small enough a leak would finger the source almost immediately.

We are, as a nation, entitled to that information.  CEO's, even Superintendents of school districts, have to get a physical once a year and prove to the directors (a public body in the latter case) that they are in good health.  The nation requires no less of the President.

Fighting on Process=Losing, Part the Millionth


If you go here, you will notice the support for impeachment goes up sharply after November 22, 2019, and opposition correspondingly falls.

So much winning!

Besides:  young people!  Coming to save us!
 

We Say "THANKSGIVING!," DAMMIT!


This article pushes pumpkin pie as the quintessential dish of a Yankee Thanksgiving, and I don't doubt it. But then it pushes sweet potato pieces the universal equivalent in the South.

I grew up in the South. I was in my 30's before I ever heard of sweet potato pie. I think I've eaten it once since then. If pumpkin pie is northern because it uses squash and molasses, pecan pie is southern because it uses corn syrup and pecans. I can't imagine Thanksgiving without it. In fact, I didn't make one this year, and I'm getting twitchy about it. There's no room in the fridge for it, I probably wouldn't serve more than one slice (and it would be to me), but I would sooner skip the turkey and poach fish than not prepare a pecan pie.

I gave up on pumpkin pie a long time ago. Like Garrison Keillor said, the best pumpkin pie is no better than the worst one, it's just an excuse for mediocrity. Besides, I still remember my grandmother's pecan pies at Thanksgiving and Xmas. I've read pecan pie was an invention of corn syrup makers, to sell more corn syrup.  I don't really care.  Nostalgia is a powerful drug.

May it be unto your according to your memories and joys.

So One Guy Gets A Golden Ticket


And the other three face Naval justice alone and almost anonymously (quick:  name all three!)?

How could this possibly affect morale and unit cohesion?  Or be called fascism?

Well, at least we haven't changed the name of the holiday tomorrow, amirite?

Timing Is Everything

You really need to start this stuff several weeks ahead of time if you want it to get anywhere. And if we really want to divide the country:

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

I Thought We Were Calling it "Turkey Day"


It's the HuffPost article again.  Poor guy from Alternet can't catch a break.

He's Not Very Good At This, Is He?



No, you're not experiencing deja vu:


Yes, that's exactly what it means.  No immunity whatsoever.  Makes Rudy a choice witness in a Senate trial.

He Seems Like a Nice Guy, Redux


And NONE of this will come out when Gallagher starts making public appearances with Trump.  Relatedly, our President doesn't even have a nodding acquaintance with reality.

This was said at a rally in Florida:
I think we've found that, too:

I mention it because it includes my favorite "Meth.  We're on it." line from Trump in a long time:
 
Honestly, it's a bird's nest on the ground.  It's taking candy from a baby.

Odds He Thinks

...this is a real pardon.

"The only thing worse than being talked about..."

"...is not being talked about."--Oscar Wilde

"Which is why you won't get anything outta me...

...until you buy my book!"

National security for sale at your local merchant. Is this a great country, or what?

If not for that meddling Constitution!


There is another reason Trump didn't go through the FBI or DOJ to get Ukraine to investigate Biden (aside from not caring about the investigation, just the announcement.  Remember his "investigators" who went to Hawaii to check on the birth certificate, and found things that would shock us all.  Yeah, they still aren't back yet.).  The FBI would require at least a reasonable suspicion.  Per the Horowitz investigation, there wasn't even enough to raise that threshold present in the FISA applications and other things Trump has been howling about.

The U.S. can't investigate "Ukrainian election interference" without some grounds to conduct such an investigation.  And there aren't any.

A Murder of Crows


A congress of ravens.  A parliament of rooks.

Crows have the best group pronoun.  Ravens have the most portent.

And then the staff carried Trump....


...in a sedan chair down to the shore, so he could command the tides not to come in.


Half empty?

Or half full? Opinions differ.

Besides, after effectively five days of testimony, the inquiry is over, right?

Nothing to see here; opinions haven't changed.  Move along, people.

"They've been on TeeVee!"


"Don't you understand?!?  They've BEEN ON TEE-VEE!!!!!!!!!!"

And here she is on TeeVee, explaining the importance of TeeVee to the man obsessively watching this program to be convinced of his importance, because of what they say about him on TeeVee.

I'll retire to Bedlam.

History in Quatrains



Huh? I mean, literally....Huh?



Time...how does it work, again?

Monday, November 25, 2019

Let's Go To The Tape!



The interesting question is:  what changed his mind.  Impeachment may not be a sure thing, but doom in 12 months seems to be more and more certain.

I Honestly Thought...

Trump would not want this guy's criminal record scrutinized.

Now I think Trump is more delusional than I thought possible.

Eve of Eve of Eve of Thanksgiving


Let me let you in on a little secret:

After years of being constantly annoyed and often angry about the historical denial built into Thanksgiving Day, I published an essay in November 2005 suggesting we replace the feasting with fasting and create a National Day of Atonement to acknowledge the genocide of indigenous people that is central to the creation of the United States.

....
 The most common argument went something like this: OK, it’s true that the Thanksgiving Day mythology is rooted in a fraudulent story — about the European invaders coming in peace to the “New World,” eager to cooperate with indigenous people — which conveniently ignores the reality of European barbarism in the conquest of the continent. But we can reject the culture’s self-congratulatory attempts to rewrite history, I have been told, and come together on Thanksgiving to celebrate the love and connections among family and friends.

The argument that we can ignore the collective cultural definition of Thanksgiving and create our own meaning in private has always struck me as odd.

The world doesn't revolve around you; and nobody cares.  You don't elevate yourself by being national scold demanding we all don sackcloth and ashes because you want to. Ironically, when I posted this quote it included a "Happy Holidays" message from Raw Story.  It made me think of the nuts on FoxNews decrying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Xmas!", a stupidity that found its way to our head of state, who thinks it's still a winning complaint.  By now I'd have thought at least by negative example that we'd have gotten over foisting our particular animosities on the world at large and demanding it do as we say!  Don't we have enough of that from our POTUS?  Do we really need it from private citizens, too?

And by the way, you didn't "publish" anything, you posted your whinging on a website.  And FoxNews didn't even notice. Stop giving yourself airs, and the rest of us a reason to think less of you.  I, for one, don't think of Thanksgiving as being rooted in the Pilgrims (who were hardly the first settlers) or the kindness of the natives.  I think of it as a day for family and feasting and football, the three "F's" of American culture.  I'll try not to think of tedious people like you who think the world is out of line for not doing as you wish.

Get over yourself.  The world is not here to please you, and there are larger injustices to be addressed than some silly idea of a "National Day of Atonement."  This is America; it would just be an occasion for shopping and sales, anyway.

ADDING:  in response to the comment:  the whole idea does run into Niebuhr's issue, that you can't make a nation take a moral stance because morality often requires sacrifice, and the point of a nation is to provide security, not demand sacrifice for something that doesn't contribute to the nation's security (which is the security of the citizens of that nation).  Atonement would require sacrifice of people who may believe they have nothing to atone for.  Can you force a moral stance on people, one that requires them to give something, anything, up in return?  You may ask it of them; you can't require it of them, any more than we allow a parent to withhold medical care from a child for moral reasons.  So you may complain that America should be Moral Like You, but it's a pretty selfish complaint.  Demanding it of America, is just childish.

Can We Talk About The Trial Record Now?



Because more and more, this seems relevant if we're going to redefine "hero":

Spot The Smartest Creature in this Photo


Three guesses; first two don't count.

Waking to a Dog's Breakfast


This is a very tangled mess.
My only hope is that it focusses attention on what a mess Trump is making of government (military seems a particularly sacred touchstone for many who hate "big" government, but love big military), especially if this information can come out:
I recall what candidate Trump said about people coming from Mexico, and note for the record that Gallagher is a white man.

Further affiant sayeth not, because this snarled line of claim and counter-claim and looking for a "hero" in this mess, ain't worth further effort.  To paraphrase the Bard, all should be punished.

The Morning After

Yeah, pretty much. Is America great yet?

Sunday, November 24, 2019

He Seems Nice

Maybe one more reason Trump wants to get this case out of the headlines. Because I haven't seen many news reports about the details of the facts against Gallagher.

Of course, I haven't been looking, either. Who has? And now the discussion will turn to Spencer and Esper. Which is a pity, but what can anyone do about Trump?

So this happened (again, via Tweet)


What, by the way, do cost overruns (?) have to do with this?  Asking for a friend.

Trump had to get his pound of flesh from this, so Gallagher retires with his SEAL status intact.  It's telling Trump thinks one more strike against the chain of command is a win; but there we are.

For the first part, this contradicts what was reported earlier:

Which makes this simply a mess, for which Spencer bears some blame:
Which makes me think Spencer's letter of termination (he didn't resign) is, and was released as, a CYA measure, which is not really a good look no matter who is finally to blame.  Except on reading it (finally!  what can I say, I'm busy!), it's clearly a middle finger to Trump, especially the paragraphs about military order and the rule of law, two things Trump clearly disdains and tramples like the ignorant child he is.  Of course, that's a good way to point away from DOD reports that Spencer was negotiating with the White House behind Esper's back.  ETTD, indeed. Still, the letter is not a resignation:
And it makes it pretty clear Trump told Esper to do it, but leave Trump out of it.  Which is the other problem here:
Which raises a more important problem/issue:
I don't know who has standing to challenge the appointment of a new SecNav (?), but this kind of quite literal lawlessness is a pervasive problem all on its own.  Trump wants to keep his (tiny) hands clean by foisting the order onto the SecDef.  Notice Trump had nothing to do with it, which is the responsibility he wants desperately not to be saddled with, because that responsibility carries with it blame on Trump for his stupid tweets in the first place, and for his bull-in-the-china-shop approach to military command structure.  This quite honestly has nothing to do with Spencer or even Esper anymore, and everything to do with Trump.  So, of course, Trump did it because of cost overruns.

Huh?

His lawlessness and disregard for law is like a stone through a plate glass window; the cracks from the initial impact just keep spreading and spreading, and the window itself is now useless and must be replaced.  How much of government and understanding of governance (not to mention military order) will we have to remove and replace (and how do we do that?) when Trump is finally gone?

Every day he proves himself not only unfit for office, but a clear and present danger to the government and the Constitution.  And he knows it, and refuses to be held responsible for it, and that only makes the matter worse.

" I know that you believe you understand what you think I said,"


"...but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."

Or even what the words meant, that someone else said.  I mean, Truth, who knows, right, Sen. Kennedy?

You know that's going to be the response to all this.

"Only Connect."--E.M. Forster


Which is a surprise, but also makes a certain amount of sense when you consider this:
The distrust extends far beyond the staff of the White House.  But don't make Esper a plaster saint, because he apparently was asked to resign for reasons other than Trump's tweet:


Esper may be angry at such an insubordinate subordinate.  It's a fair cop.  Reportedly the problem here is Spencer, not Trump.  So this may be a matter of trust, not of a tweet.  Will this stop here, or result in Trump making a legal order of the matter?  Inquiring minds want to know.

And yet there is a ray of sunshine in the system yet:
"... it is more important than ever that we still have places where the truth can be presented, examined and discerned."  Frankly, toying with the military chain of command is about as exciting and motivating as ignoring the conclusions of the entire intelligence apparatus of the U.S. government.  But the "smoking gun" tape didn't take Nixon down in itself, or in isolation.  It was the last straw, the thing Baker and Specter knew they couldn't defend Nixon on, the last wall that fell and left them nothing to back up against.  Nixon was going down (hell, he was in his second term); they just weren't going to let the GOP go down with him (although it did, only to get the whole of government handed back to them by Jimmy Carter and a feckless Democratic party; but that's another story).

Trump is going down; but how much damage is he going to do to troop morale, military structure, the entire function of government from top to bottom, before he does?  As I said, these questions are abstractions; it is the concrete that will do him in. 

News of this may well turn very solid and real by tomorrow.  We'll see.

Adding:
Yeah, it's gonna end as a personnel matter.  Even Trump won't go there.

And the last nail in that coffin:

Redux Reflux

I've said it before and I'll say it again: forget the abstract, only the concrete is real.

Putin is the leader of a foreign country.  He is abstract, and his assault on the American electorate is abstract.  Yes, the conspiracy theory is straight outta St. Petersburg.  Yes, it's the rankest bullshit, as certified by American intelligence agencies.

No matter.  It's an abstraction.  Trump is concrete.  Trump is here, not way over there.  And Trump is an American politician, not a foreign leader (since when did Americans care that much about the rest of the world, especially after Vietnam?).

Likewise the Constitution.  Yes, Senators and Representatives take an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution.  What political ever got re-elected on that platform, unless it was a promise to preserve, protect, and defend your right to arm bears?  The 2nd Amendment is concrete (and wholly misunderstood).  The rest of the Constitution is bafflegab and moonbeams.  It may provide for impeachment, but what political under investigation ever got drummed out of office for calling the investigation "unconstitutional"?  The common and accepted interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is actually unconstitutional.  Even Scalia's opinion in Heller doesn't do what many NRA loonies think it does.  But it matters not:  that interpretation is concrete, the Constitution itself a mere abstraction.

So politicians don't act to preserve, protect, and defend an abstraction.  They act to get re-elected, and to represent (aye, there's the rub!) their constituents.  I could throw a rock in Louisiana and not hit someone who disagreed with Sen. Kennedy.  No doubt they exist; but you'd have to hunt for them.  Of course, what politicians say when they campaign is abstractions:  but they are taken as concrete.  The media may want candidates to pontificate on arcane foreign policy issues; the voters want to know what tax breaks they can expect, and what the government is going to do for them.  Constitutional issues like "abuse of power" or even bribery or treason are abstractions; literally.  What is concrete is how any particular voter feels tomorrow morning.  Always tomorrow morning, in fact.

Putin is an abstraction.  Trump's tweets, which can bring ignominy on their targets in a GOP primary, are concrete.  The Constitution is an abstraction.  That there was no bribery because Ukraine got the money, is concrete (it's wrong, but it's concrete).  What people say is an abstraction, especially when you can take a post-modern stance that:  "Words?  What do they really mean, anyway?"  Which, according to Lewis Carroll, isn't all that post-modern after all.

'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone,' it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.'

'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'

'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.'
We have met the master, and we are through the looking glass.  Honor and duty and oath have always been empty words in American politics; good for using in speeches, bad for living up to.  Here the British constitutional monarchy has one up on us (not much of one, granted).  When a politician is caught in scandal, the Queen is the exemplar of governmental behavior (the royal family is another matter) and, compared to her, the politician is shamed and driven from the Queen's government (it's all her government, in idea if not reality).  We re-elect our scoundrels, and consider them bad people but at least they're our bad people.  Your people are much worse.  That isn't going to change anytime soon.  Sen. Kennedy is merely doing what politicians before him have done since the founding of the Republic and the Presidency of Adams proved the Presidency of Washington was a one-off and the eternal exception that proved the rule.  Kennedy is just dancing with the ones what brung him.

And most of those people aren't on Twitter.  With any luck, they won't be the majority of the electorate next November, either; along with disappointed Bernie backers.

Maybe we can spend more time interpreting "Jabberwocky."


Christmas Is Coming, after all


To be perfectly clear, if you don't want to watch the video:  Nunes all but announces he will take CNN to court.

“Just to be clear, you’re saying you’re suing CNN,” Bartiromo pressed. “You’re telling me that CNN committed criminal activity?”

“It’s very likely. Or they’re an accessory to it, right? So none of this is true,” Nunes shot back. “The sad part is, I’m the last guy that wants to go into the courts, but the media has become totally corrupt that now they’re willing to actually engage and help with criminals, indicted criminals. These people are sick, and the only way they’re going to be held accountable is through the court system. And It’s the only chance I have to actually get the facts out for the American people because they can’t lie to a court.”
Of course, under the Sullivan decision, it's all but impossible to slander a public official.  That's one problem.  The other is, even without Sullivan, you can't shoot the messenger:

Aside from those constitutional and legal obstacles, there are reasons most public officials in America don't sue for slander.  One is that truth is an absolute defense, and a slander suit can just end proving the truth of what was reported, especially when Nunes won't even deny it in this interview:
The other is the matter of discovery, no matter how the lawsuit resolves:

Colorful but accurate description of what the discovery process is like in a civil case.  It would make Nunes' head explode, and it's the reason he, like Trump, has never sued anybody with enough money to make his life miserable.  Because almost nothing in civil discovery is privileged; CNN could publish almost every bit of it.

Which is why it would be such a Xmas present!

Annotating Kellyanne

Kellyanne speaks, we listen:

“But here’s what I was saying,” Conway said. “The July 25th call [with Ukraine], the call that the whole world has had access to, the president clearly lays out what’s on his mind. It’s the day after Mueller testifies and then the president looks at it as his turn. He wants to get to the bottom of what happened in 2016. And certainly to avoid that in the future, look, we have done a great deal in our White House… to secure our elections.”

Yes, the memorandum of that call does clearly lay out what was on the President's mind:  a quid pro quo.  Ukraine gets the funds authorized by Congress if Ukraine's President goes on television by a date certain and announces an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden.  Not conducts an investigation, and publicizes the results; just announce the investigation.  Trump doesn't care if it's true or not; he wants to see Biden deny it.  Why?  Because it helps Trump.  Corruption in Ukraine?  Eh, whatever.

“But I also don’t want the impeachment process, I don’t want members of the mainstream media — which don’t include you — to interfere in the 2020 election the way they tried in the 2016 election,” the president’s aide exclaimed. “That’s a different kind of interference and that’s dangerous too.”
This is paranoiac conspiracy thinking of the highest order, although she graciously excluded CBS from her criticism (which apparently kept Brennan from protesting, so it worked!).  How did the media "interfere"?  By not backing Trump's conspiracy theories like "Birtherism" or the "Deep State" or "Fake News!"? By reporting what he said, and how crazy it was?  No, actually, they didn't do that. Not enough, anyway.

Before allowing Brennan to concluded the interview, Conway noted that polls in swing states have allegedly turned against impeachment.

“These Democrats who are in charge of the hearings don’t represent the swing districts,” she opined. “They have to look at the polls and say, ‘There’s no appetite to impeach and remove this president.'”
Wait, I thought the President was complaining about the due process rights he claims in a House impeachment investigation (spoiler:  he doesn't have any, and the ones the House offered he swatted away).  Now you're telling me it's purely a political matter, and the swing states are all that matter?  Because the election is going to be held in December 2019 this time?  Honestly, swings in voter attention/sympathy for impeachment don't mean all that much.  We've only heard from a handful of witnesses over 2 weeks, testifying for less than a full business week in all.  You really want a 6 week Senate trial with Trump calling all kinds of witnesses to spout crackpot conspiracy theories that come from cloud cuckoo-land or, worse, Russian propaganda?  You really think that's a winning strategy?  Please, PLEASE, throw the country in that briar patch!  I'm beggin' ya!