Saturday, January 22, 2022

Thanks, Uncle Joe!

But...but...but...inflation! I’m assuming “people getting upset” means people on Twitter. Which is not exactly tout le monde. It is, however, the people who want to be upset constantly, and can always find  a source for their agitation.

And dropping in on FoxNews:
Well , they probably didn’t like what he did say to Doocy or OAN.

In other news, WHY it doesn’t work that way? Damned laws and lawyers! Does that make me a criminal or something? Damned laws! Damned lawyers! Cops should go after the real bad guys! The solution to our crime problem is to let the police commit crimes so they can catch the criminals committing crimes. ‘Cause to make an omelette ya gotta break some yeggs, right?

Speaking of who’s in charge:
What is it about the green ones? Or, the brown ones? I guess? In other food related news:
That was the note my day ended on. Or rather, it would have been, if I hadn’t seen this: Forget the complaint about flight attendants (who are only following FAA regulations), what an incredibly selfish thing to do to your family. I have known suicides, and I consider that the ultimate selfish act, especially if you leave family behind to grieve it. It’s hard not to consider this just as selfish.

My sympathies are with the family in their loss.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Time To Turn Everybody’s Furnace Off!

“Constitution Be Damned! This Is A Crisis!”

I’m thinking somebody not as completely untethered from reality as Sidney Powell told Trump:”Yeah, it doesn’t work like that.”

Although I’m fairly sure 147 GOP Congress critters could have been found to vote for it.

A Cold Day In…πŸ₯Ά

 So I woke up this morning to a notice that my electric company had issued a “Rush Hour” notice to my Nest thermostat, telling it to stay set at 55F until 9:00 AM.

It was 36F outside.

I’ve had notices like this in summer. Nobody has an AC unit that runs on natural gas. This is the first one I’ve ever seen in winter.

This does not bode well for Abbott’s re-election.

The threat of a gas cutoff in that Tribune story would have been even worse if it had been realized. Fortunately even Texas has minimal consumer protections; just a complaint to the Railroad Commission ended that threat and restored some semblance of order. But imagine cutting off power to a medium sized city.

If the lesson of February is to be very afraid of cold weather (this has been a warm winter in Texas), then Abbott needs to be very afraid.  ERCOT has announced repeatedly that we should remain calm, all is well.

Electricity suppliers don’t seem to be listening.

Context For The Context That Needs Context

Dahlia Lithwick has some good observations on this, including how utterly absurd it is. But it ends up with what the knowing, and the scorpions in the bottle, call “both-siderism.”

I guess this is how maskgate ends. With yet more polarized public outrage. Again. Me, I see it as yet another opportunity for an institution to have modeled real collegiality and genuine mutual respect, but yet again it is instead snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory. Imagine if everyone had simply put on a mask for a few weeks, not because the science was perfect, but out of respect for a colleague they loudly claim to adore. Imagine if we weren’t fighting about who had to “ask” their colleague to do what would plainly be the respectful thing. But Gorsuch—who writes so dismissively of the risks around COVID—didn’t want to “play politics” by conceding that COVID is actually quite dangerous, especially to the elderly and those with underlying conditions. This isn’t a theoretical problem. It sits next to him at work. So, if Mike Davis is telling the truth, instead of respecting that possibility, he played politics by performing his contempt for the public health guidelines in place throughout the District of Columbia and his own place of business. Checkmate. Everyone can be a little more self-certain and pissed off.
My conclusion still stands, and it doesn’t contradict Ms. Lithwick’s: Sotomayor doesn’t want to die on this hill; Gorsuch is a dick. The public record supports both conclusions, and Justice Sotomayor wants to expend her indignation where it counts: Should that impassioned dissent be overshadowed by “maskgate”? Clearly not. Ms.Lithwick had the right approach in the beginning:
I just wanted the court to tell us what their public health rules were, and when, and if the justices declined to abide by their own rules, to explain why.
That has been lost, but the Court is not a victim of society here. It has its own agency in this process. It cannot wade into and out of the polarizing issues of the day (rolling back constitutional rights is hardly on par with Brown overruling “separate but equal”) with supreme disengagement. If the Court is losing its authority of equanimity and cool, dispassionate deliberation, the Court has only itself to blame.

I Really Like Popehat, But…

A) He is clearly much younger than me. The segregated schools, the entire segregated world Dr. King described in his Letter is the world I blithely grew up in and belatedly learned to recognize. That world, and all its codes.

B) The issue is regional. I grew up in the South Mitch McConnell grew up in. He’s only 13 years older than me. I grew up as that world changed. He grew up in it. It started changing when I was 9; McConnell was 22. We both know exactly how the codes work.

C)  McConnell didn’t “misspeak,” and he wasn’t misunderstood. He also wasn’t speaking from a position of objective neutrality. He meant what he said. He meant what everyone heard. He said it for his voters, in Kentucky.

D) I learned not to talk like that. Why hasn’t McConnell? Or did he mean what he said, with the habit of “plausible deniability” about race matters we both grew up with?

E) I recognize the deniability. I know it’s not plausible.

Walls. Closing In.

It’s not the most important part, but the Texas-Mexico border alone is 1,241 miles.

The man’s delusions have delusions.

Various types of fencing totalling 654 miles (just over 1,000 km) were already in place before Mr Trump became president in 2017. These ran through the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

The Trump administration say they've completed more than 400 miles of border wall since then. It's 452 miles (727 km) in total, according to the latest US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) information (4 January 2021). 

However, only 80 miles of new barriers have been built where there were none before - that includes 47 miles of primary wall, and 33 miles of secondary wall built to reinforce the initial barrier. The vast majority of the 452 miles is replacing existing structures at the border that had been built by previous US administrations. 

Trump didn’t build shit.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Meanwhile, Back At The Courts…

The Court of Appeals, however, had no occasion to decide these questions because it analyzed and rejected President Trump’s privilege claims “under any of the tests [he] advo- cated,” Trump v. Thompson, 20 F. 4th 10, 33 (CADC 2021), without regard to his status as a former President, id., at 40–46. Because the Court of Appeals concluded that President Trump’s claims would have failed even if he were the incumbent, his status as a former President necessarily made no difference to the court’s decision.
Which is the Court's way of saying this:
He's failed at every level," Eisen said of Trump's efforts. "And the reason he has failed the Supreme Court road last night is because he simply did not make the showing that he needed to make in order to have these documents held back. It's a balancing test when you're talking about executive privilege, the right of a president to hold back documents. And you've got to show an overwhelming, compelling need for each individual document. And sometimes even a paragraph for a line on a document to be held back, and he just failed to do it. So, once again, Trump was brought down by lousy lawyering."
When your claims of executive privilege fail even if you were the incumbent with a much stronger claim to the privilege, that’s on your lawyers.

Trump is using up all the advantages he was ever born into. Personally, anyway. The Court is still greasing the rails to take us back to Lochner.
Trump will fail. The Roberts court presents a much more serious threat to American daily life. One more reason I’m not that concerned with the “death” of democracy. There are bigger fish to fry. 

And yes, I do think ALL of Trump’s assertions of executive privilege are now…trumped. Be careful what you ask for; sooner or later, you get it.

It Means The Average Wharton Student… in for a rude awakening; along with his sack of coal.

(There’s Always A Next Question)

Is there a distinction in executive privilege case law between protection for documents and protection for former staff? Or anyone at all the former POTUS consulted?

I can’t imagine what it would be, especially since you would want to question the authors of the documents, people named in records of meetings, etc.

If I’m right, all Trump’s claims of post-President executive privilege just fell apart.

Can We Cancel The Olympics Now?

Yes, I am a curmudgeon. Why do you ask? There is always a bright side. LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

“Old Times There Are Not Forgotten”

A) Gotta Make The Court Look Like One Big Happy Family

First, context: B) This is not a hill Sotomayor (metaphorically) wants to die on.

C) Gorsuch still looks like an ass. Whether or not Roberts "ordered" it (and who is he to do so, frankly? First among equals, and he decides who writes opinions, but wearing masks on the bench?), is Gorsuch not adult enough to be sensitive to Sotomayor's risk, especially as he sits right next to her and knows why she's not attending hearings in person?

D) It is also possible Sotomayor doesn't want to take the risk, regardless (Masks are hardly foolproof). But the "warm colleagues and friends" language sounds like something is being frantically covered up.

Three Supreme Court justices issued statements Wednesday addressing an NPR story about relations among the justices. On Tuesday, NPR reported that Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a longtime diabetic, had indicated to Chief Justice John Roberts that because of the omicron surge, she did not feel safe being in a room with people who are unmasked, and that the chief justice "in some form asked the other justices to mask up."

 On Wednesday, Sotomayor and Gorsuch issued a statement saying that she did not ask him to wear a mask. NPR's report did not say that she did. Then, the chief justice issued a statement saying he "did not request Justice Gorsuch or any other justice to wear a mask on the bench." The NPR report said the chief justice's ask to the justices had come "in some form."

 NPR stands by its reporting.
The responses coming out of the Court all had a certain “Oh, shit, that didn’t do it!” quality. The responses all denied something the report didn’t say. Classic non-denial denials. And pretty clumsy ones.

Even lawyers good at parsing statements can be bad at parsing PR.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Topic Du Jour

Trump can run for office from a federal penitentiary if he wants to. It would seem to be a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card, because nothing bars someone holding the office except 1) in Honig’s analysis above.

Strictly speaking Trump could be impeached precisely to disqualify him. But we all know that would never happen. πŸ‘Ž

This “system” is starting to fray, and not just at the edges.

Dan Crenshaw Is Also…

...a fucking idiot who wouldn’t know what due process is if it crawled up his leg and bit him in the privates. Having legal representation and hearings in open court is the very definition in concreto of due process. And he wants to help people who want to stop government from performing its most basic functions.

Dan Crenshaw is an idiot. And he’s unfit to hold public office, because he doesn’t understand the meaning of the oath of office he took. To even say what he did is to betray that oath. Don’t think he knew what the military oath he swore meant, either.

Only The Best

I accept the analogy and that this pleading is intensely stupid. But I’m rusty enough to not grasp the problem immediately.

This one I do understand at first sight. As God is my witness I read about this a few minutes earlier than I saw this tweet, and I’d already thought about how Trump would have to file a separate suit to block release of these documents. A separate suit in the trial court. Or try to get the trial court to add these four pages, AND issue a restraining order by 6:00 p.m. That much about procedure I still understand (the issue on the motion to dismiss is procedural, not substantive, law. And those are just terms of art (i.e., classifications), not judgments on merit).

The ex-President’s lawyers, however, do not.

They have until 6 p.m. DC time to correct their error; or they’ll need to contact their malpractice insurers. This really isn’t a mistake a first-year lawyer would make. Then again, their grasp of procedural law proves to be almost nonexistent.

Three Guesses

First two don't count.  Was this written:

A) anytime in 1940-41?

B) Today?

Everything new is old again.

Pay To Play

Or, endorsements for sale. It’s always a grift. It’s only a grift. There is nothing but the grift.

Nice Work If You Can Get It

A) Those "debates" are so worthless it’s time we were rid of them. If you aren’t convinced Donald Trump shouldn’t be allowed into the White House even on a tour, another round of debates aren’t going to change your mind.

B) The most talked about  part of the “debates” is how well the journalist/journalists did, anyway. It’s an opportunity for pundits to critique their colleagues in a public and socially accepted way.

C) The debates only show how prepared (or not) the candidates are to perform. It’s kabuki, at best: stylized and ritualistic performances meant to reveal nothing (which, I know, is a slander on kabuki, but you get the idea.).

D) This is all still three years away. What does “working” mean in that context? Trump’s appeal is supposedly working; his desire to return to the Oval Office is winning him support. Or not. The majority of the country doesn’t want him back. Even Trump won’t run again if Biden’s approval ratings go back to 46%. Three years is plenty long enough to make that happen.

E) Beware the people who tell you the danger is upon you, that you are foolish not to see it, and only they can save you. Nice work, if you can get it.

FoxNews On Why I Don’t Watch FoxNews

“We need to stop rewarding bad behavior.”

Everything New Is Old Again

Context: At least it doesn’t involve school teachers.

“What Is Truth?”

How’d that work out for ya? Stopped Russia from threatening to invade Ukraine, did ya? Stopped the war in Syria? Stopped any war at all?

So, School Vaccines Are…?

Or vax requirements at hospitals, doctor’s offices, etc.?

Quarantine is a concept as old (at least) as the colonies, and has no connection to invalid discrimination based on inalterable qualities like race, gender, or ethnicity. Vaccine status is easily altered and can risk to others.

This doesn’t begin to make sense.

“Protect The Senate”?

Or protect the vote? Which is the purpose of the Law?

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Well, It Is Winter πŸ₯Ά

But we have yet to repeat February 2021 in Texas. So it’s a bit early to speak of “hellscapes” this year.  Although the last one was brought to us by 20 years of Republican rule, so history has plenty of chances to repeat itself.

Watch This Space

Is this the future? A blast from the past? Time is a flat circle. Especially if this re-treaded nonsense makes a resurgence. 

Sadly all the responses to that last tweet are from people too young to remember people actually prosecuted, or simply accused and damned, over allegations of “Satanism” in pre-schools. The “mass hysteria” of the Salem witch trials probably isn’t historical, but this hysteria was. I remember it well. I don’t think we’re going to see that again. But everything old is new again; and again; and again.

Told Ya

The first time I heard Crenshaw on a local radio program he was ranting so harshly about Covid protocols I thought he was a crank caller. I was shocked to find out he was my newly-elected Representative (he hid this side when he went on SNL to accept Pete Davidson’s apology for an eye-parch joke).

Now he’s doing it in public. Now he’s not trying to hide it. This may be his Clayton Williams moment (Williams refused to shake hands with Anne Richards at a gubernatorial debate. He lost the race at that moment.) We live in hope.
The podcast was sbout Crenshaw's new book:

The important thing is that we societal hero archetypes that we look up to. Jesus is a hero archetype, Superman is a hero archetype. Real characters too, you know, I put, I could name a thousand,” Crenshaw said on the podcast. “You know, know Rosa Parks, Ronald Reagan, all of these people embody certain attributes that the American people think ‘This is good.'"

This was a Montgomery County Tea Party meeting, so not exactly a hotbed of liberalism. Crenshaw was in his element; or so he expected. The calls, in other words, were coming from inside the house.
Maybe the clumsiest part is she was quoting him talking about the mistake of responding with outrage rather than reason. “Don’t question my faith” is not an argument from reason . And if this is how a grown man reacts to a ten-year old girl in a public forum, it’s not your faith I question: it’s your maturity.

I didn’t realize former Navy Seals were so fragile. Or maybe it’s the GOP eating its young.

As I said: we live in hope.

So, Neil Gorsuch Is An Asshole?

Not that much of a surprise. He’s also not all that bright.

At his first sitting in 2017, he sought to dominate the argument and repeatedly suggested that a complex case, involving conflicting provisions, was really very simple. 

 "Wouldn't it be easier if we just followed the plain text of the statute?" he asked over and over. "What am I missing?" 

 A lot, said his colleagues, both liberal and conservative. 

"This is unbelievably complicated," lamented conservative Justice Samuel Alito. Whoever wrote the statute must be "somebody who takes pleasure tearing the wings off flies," he said, provoking loud snickers on the bench.
Pro-tip: when you’re the new guy, and nobody in the room agrees with you, it’s probably because they aren’t wrong.


Don Huffines is running against RINOs. Well, it’s a GOP primary, what do you expect? But he also wants to investigate and prosecute election fraud, something the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals just declared is the province of the counties, not the state. I suppose he’ll propose a constitutional amendment to fix that, too (see below).

He wants to eliminate property taxes. This is the only source of revenue for local governments and public schools. He wants a constitutional amendment to “phase out” property taxes in Texas in 10 years. And replace them with what? “To be decided later.” No, I’m not kidding. It’s the Trump “Repeal Obamacare now! Replace it later!” approach. Sure, teachers and parents across Texas are gonna vote for that. “Move to Texas, we can’t fund our schools or figure out how to!”

BTW, the Texas Constitution doesn’t allow for an income tax. So, the alternative to a property tax will be? A higher sales tax, maybe?

I’m actually excited at the prospect of Huffines winning the nomination. I think it’d be Clayton Williams redux (Williams was such a clown he defeated himself and put Anne Richards in the Governor’s Mansion.) Even if Huffines defeated Beto, nothing worse would happen. Not even the Texas Lege would be crazy enough to pass Huffines’ proposals.

But I’m still pretty sure he’d just open the door for Beto.

Why America Only Has Two Parties, Explained In One Tweet

You Mean…?

"Political deviancy”? You mean the stuff Nixon did (and I don’t mean just Watergate)? That Gingrich did? Gingrich became Speaker only after running Jim Wright out of office in a very trumped (!) up scandal. The cult of “St. Ronnie” (which has only now been replaced with the cult of King Donald)? Lee Atwater”? “Turd Blossom” Rove? Medicare cheat Sen. Rick Scott? “One-term Obama” Mitch McConnell, whose signal and solitary political accomplishment was leading the U.S.Senate to be sure to accomplish nothing? Dick “Torture in the defense of liberty is no vice” Cheney? Whitewater, the great GOP seven-year national snipe hunt?

I could go on like this for awhile. The only problem now is Kristol & Co. have lost control of the deviants. Kind of like the “Celestial” in The Eternals who created Deviants to further the progress of human life and when instead they endangered it, created the Eternals to fight the Deviants. In the end, the Celestial lost control of both groups. Not a very effective system.

Turns out the “mommy state” liberals were bent on helping people (like the Eternals) and the lassez-faire conservatives were bent on using people for their own end (like the Celestial. Who, not surprisingly, is the real villain of the story.)

I think the problem with Trump is that the GOP have been laying the groundwork for him since at least Goldwater’s defeat. Be careful what you ask for; you might get it.

Monday, January 17, 2022

“Who Would Have Agreed With Me…”

"...that the Senate filibuster rule is far more important than legislation enabling the 15th amendment.”

Dead men and saints are the safest exemplars:

Dear Blog Reader(s)

Put a pin in this. πŸ“Œ I may have reason to recall it come Sunday (funny coincidence/revelation? coming).

“Surely a revelation is at hand!”

As Close As I’m Coming To An MLK Day Post This Year

Here, read this one. Better’n I could do.

Looking Backwardly

A couple of comments:

A)  That the common law dealt in the criminal prosecution of witchcraft is hardly surprising. But note that by the 17th century the common law was so complex it needed to be written down, and not just in the case law. I don’t mean that’s a new development in the 17th century. I do mean to point out the complexity of the common law.

B) And that the Salem Witch trials were conducted by the church, not the Crown. In fact, by the Puritans, people who had defied the Crown, won and lost control of the government, and were in America because they were not welcome in Jollye Olde England. What Cotton Mather knew of English common law was probably equivalent to people on Twitter who still think Brandenburg v Ohio (shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater) is still the law; or ever was. I’m quite sure they weren’t concerned with the finer points of Hale’s commentary on the common law 10 years later across the ocean in the wilderness of Massachusetts. It’s unlikely there was even a copy of the book on the continent at the time.

The Salem Witch trials were about isolation and power. The village of Salem was isolated from the rule of law in England.The people accused of witchcraft were usually single women (widows, or unmarried) who had property somebody wanted. Mass hysteria had nothing to do with it. I suspect that false idea is rooted in Miller’s play, the same reason we think the Scopes trial was about science v fundamentalism (again, because of a play). It was, in fact, just a show trial to generate publicity for the city. The defendant volunteered for the case. He was never in any legal danger. The people in Salem faced grave danger; but the actions against them were cold-blooded and ruthless, not the product of terror.

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” There were no lawyers in Salem. Hysteria didn’t do the job. Ruthlessness and the absence of the rule of law did. I’ve seen the same thing happen (not to me, to my client, my then-pastor) when the church follows its own inadequate rules rather than the rule of law, the due process of law. There was no hysteria involved, but the process was no fairer than the trials in Salem. And it was just as vicious.

The more things change, the more they remain the same. And the rule of law, whether we now find the subject of the laws absurd or not, is still preferable to no rule and only power.

More Tempests In Teapots

One wonders how many Australians want to grant freedom to Covid. Is this where we point out Djokovic is white? And rich? I have a backyard cat 🐈‍⬛  (born there, lived there all her life) who has to be 14-15 years old. She used to eat squirrels 🐿 or the occasional rat πŸ€. She still goes into crouch sometimes; then, without moving, she falls asleep. I like to think she’s dreaming of eating squirrels. I also don’t miss cleaning up the parts she wouldn’t eat. Wait ‘til you wonder where 30 years went. </old guy> If they weren’t guilty they wouldn’t be convicted, right? Well, that’s what I read on Bad Legal Takes. "Fake" is bad when “they” do it. And conspiracies are bad when you don’t get away with it.

Beware Hot Takes

Just because a reporter and an editor say it's the narrative, doesn't mean it is the narrative.

The WaPo has published their second piece in a row that does embarrassing transcription work for Trump flunkies claiming they’re not under investigation for January 6.

I tweeted about the latest admission that four journalists from WaPo know fuckall about the actual investigation (or that into Rudy at SDNY) here. I tweeted about how alarming it was that people who called themselves journalists wouldn’t disclose that Jonathon Turley was the Former President’s impeachment lawyer here.

As I noted, apparently none of the four WaPo journalists are familiar enough with the investigation to know where to look to test their questions about whether DOJ is investigating Trump. But I guess it’s a good thing that WaPo relied on the expertise of their embedded Mar-A-Lago journalist (!!!) for these issues. 

Or that they even know what they are talking about.  Then again, DOJ is not going to call up WaPo and demand a correction, either.

One might think it newsworthy that an attorney for the Proud Boys revealed that prosecutors are, in fact, investigating Rudy’s militia ties. But the WaPo took from that, instead, that DOJ is not investigating Trump or anyone who might have been coordinating with the militias from the Willard Hotel.
WaPo's reporting doesn't affect what the DOJ is actually doing; and it might make it easier for them to conduct their investigations without drawing undue attention to their work.  Besides, the Congressional committee is gathering a lot of information DOJ can use long before statutes of limitations start running.

Justice is not about swift and sure vengeance, after all.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

It’s The Only Quote Anybody Knows!

I’m just going to keep my head in a book all day tomorrow. #thestruggleisreal

Post Mortem

Incumbency is a helluva drug. It’s the one he doesn’t offer anymore. He’s a drug dealer with no drugs to deal. That would be the crowd that stormed the Capitol. An only slightly less repellent argument than whining about losing.

Trump no longer deals the drug; and now he needs the drug. Nothing more pathetic than an addict chasing a fix he can’t get.
Stick a fork in him. He’s done.

Gathering The Chips That Fall Where They May

How many? Zero? Zero sounds about right. A) No, it isn’t the Democrats who are in trouble in 2024; or probably in 2022.

B) It’s been done. Not really the silver bullet it appears to be.
Thanks, Joe! Thanks, Greg! Pretty sure Steve Inskeep tried that and Trump lasted 9 minutes. If you drive off all the GOPers, are you “objective,” or partisan? Of course, as a journalist, are you devoted to the truth? Or your reputation for “objectivity”? How’s that workin’ for ya? And who prominently displays a plaque quoting his own words? Trump’s not the only narcissist in this crowd. Is this the same guy who thought hanging was too good for the “Central Park Seven”? And he’s so much as visited the prisoners? Anyway, rich man, you go first. Put your money where your mouth is. Undermining democracy, donchaknow? These guys just get closer and closer to winning us all over to their side. Yeah, I dunno why either.

🍷 (Second Sunday Of Epiphany)

The scripture readings.

In the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke), the miracles are called dunamis. The Greek word translates into English as “act of power.” John, on the other hand, uses the Greek word semeia. It means “sign.” The miracles are signs; they point toward something. They indicate. In themselves they are not important. What they point to is what matters.

This is the first sign in John’s gospel. It is certainly an act of power. But what does it point to? What does it indicate?

This is the season of Epiphany, so the other reasonable question is, what does it reveal?

Paul writes of spiritual gifts. He means they point to God, that they are signs. Think of a sign by itself. A stop sign is just a piece of painted metal on a stake. But it points to the authority of the state, an authority we respect because it keeps traffic orderly, it keeps us safe. For Paul the spiritual gifts point to God, and what God gives for us; the emphasis on “us,” not you or me. The gifts point to the church, not to your merits. The stop sign is not for you; it is for us.

Who’s the wine for, then? What does it point to? What is revealed? Paul says the gifts are from God for the common good. Whose good is the wine for? Yours? Mine? The bridal party’s?

We might as well do the story the respect of taking all of it seriously. John opens his account of Jesus’ ministry with it for a reason. John says because of this sign Jesus’ disciples believed in him. What had they been doing before? He also says this sign reveals Jesus’ glory; so at least we’ve got the epiphany worked in. But what reveals Jesus’ glory? The water into wine, or the quality of the wine? Is it a better sign because the wine is so good? Is that the glory? Or does it just underline it?

Yes, signs have to be interpreted. What is revealed is what we understand.

In itself the sign is not important. But then why is the wine so good? The steward recognizes its quality, but not its provenance. Maybe that’s the point; maybe it serves a purely narrative purpose. But is all of it not a sign, then?

Is the story significant in itself, or is it a sign? In the narrative it’s important, because this is the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. But is it just a McGuffin, meaningless in itself and forgotten as soon as it is used to start the story? Who are these people? Jesus’ mother appears again at the crucifixion (more than she does in Matthew or Luke, where she’s present only for the nativity); the disciples continue on; but this wedding disappears once this event is over. Is it really even important? Significant? What, then, does it signify?

According to John this is about the glory of God. Glory is the doxa, the light that comes off of God and is God, but obscures God. It is illuminating, it is light. Think of it as the light of revelation. It is the light that reveals. Paradoxically, it also hides. But that’s appropriate to John. In John’s telling, the semeia reveal; but they also hide. 

John’s “signs” reveal to those who understand; they also conceal the truth from those who don’t. Think of Mathew’s magi: the star reveals a truth to them Herod’s scholars don’t see. But the scripture, the word of God, reveal a truth the magi couldn’t know. The revelation is still hidden from Herod, who doesn’t see God’s action in the world; he only sees a threat to his power. In Matthew, as in Luke, the nativity is the first miracle of Jesus. It is dunamis, an act of power. It is a rather simple matter of who it is revealed to: magi, shepherds. In John the semeia reveals and hides: the steward of the wedding doesn’t get it; the disciples do. Of course, like Mary, the disciples know something the steward doesn’t. It’s not his fault; Jesus has not yet revealed himself. When he does, how can everyone know what it means?

Even John the Baptizer, in John’s gospel, has to tell the disciples, “Behold, the lamb of God.” That’s not a semeia, but it’s the first revelation. That the disciples understand it is not to their credit; it is meant for the common good. It is meant for us, the readers of this gospel. It is, for us, a sign. The sign is not the point. The point of the sign is what it signifies, what it points to. Whether we understand that, whether we realize that; well, that’s on us.

Thanks be to God.

It’s Pretty Clear…

...some people never grow up. It is the responsibility of society to keep these people away from sharp objects and positions of authority. They shouldn’t be allowed to harm themselves or others. Those ads on the side, by the way, are a feature, not a bug: Pre-game? Somebody forgot to turn ‘em off. Or, you know, not.

As I was saying about harming themselves…

And If There Are Still Voting Machines in 2022

…then MAGA Nation knows it is their duty and responsibility NOT to participate in any elections! I mean, these people will believe anything....

Remember The Sabbath, To Keep It Holy…