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

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Everything Old Is New Again


My first thought is:  have you been to a church lately?

On the one hand, several major evangelical leaders and institutions have been vocal advocates for the dignity of refugees, and for a more compassionate public policy toward immigration overall.

In June, delegates at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual conferences passed a near-unanimous resolution affirming the dignity of migrants and refugees. More recently, six major evangelical leaders, including Russell Moore, director of the Southern Baptist Convention’s policy arm, and Galen Caley, a vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, released joint statements urging President Donald Trump to allow members of the Honduran migrant caravan currently making its way to the US-Mexico border to seek asylum in the United States.

“People fleeing for their lives are not to be used as political props,” Moore has said. “Those escaping violence and persecution in Honduras and elsewhere bear the image of God and should be treated with dignity and compassion. As Christians, we should share the heart of Jesus for refugees and others imperiled.”

On the other hand, white evangelicals report being more hostile to refugees, and to migrants more generally, than any other religious group in America. A full 68 percent of them say they believe America has no responsibility to house refugees, according to a poll by Pew conducted this spring. Another poll, conducted by Washington Post/ABC in January, found that 75 percent of white evangelicals said they thought that the Trump-era federal crackdown on undocumented immigrants was a good thing, compared to just 46 percent of Americans overall.

....

The reasons for this discrepancy are complicated. They include a white evangelical population that gets its moral sense as much from conservative media as it does from scripture. There’s also a more general conflation of white evangelicalism with the GOP party agenda, which has been intensifying since the days of the Moral Majority in the 1980s.

Yeah, they aren't as simple as that, either.

Pastors in general tend to be more liberal than their congregation.  Not necessarily in a political sense, but in the sense of compassion for strangers, for immigrants, etc.  Sure, there are plenty of pastors (Burton cites the ones who openly and publicly support Trump and his immigration policies) who are somewhere to the right of Atilla the Hun (Ed Young, come on down!).  But it's not at all unusual for pastors to be far more open to the needs of the stranger than the congregation is; especially if the stranger is not staying conveniently on the other side of the border, or town, or the railroad tracks.

Here, this is what I mean by "liberal":

Stetzer acknowledged that “what you have is a distance between the grassroots and what’s often called the evangelical leadership” on immigration, with evangelicals in the pews generally far more negative on immigrants than those in the pulpit. “The leaders of evangelical institutions have increasing distance from one another at this issue.” Only, he said, once evangelical leaders and pastors were successful in promoting a Biblical theology of immigration, rather than one gleaned from cable news, could everyday evangelicals adopt a less reactionary stance towards migration.

You don't have to be a disciple of Walter Brueggemann or a fan of Marilynne Robinson to study the Bible and come to the conclusion God favors the stranger and the dispossessed.  That's what the reference to "Biblical theology" is; basically a theology not derived from studying Plato and Aristotle (i.e., Catholic theology) but one drawn strictly from Scripture (the problems of doing that are manifest and not immediately obvious, but let it go for now).  The appeal of such a theology to literalists and hard core sola scriptura types should be clear.  The problem is, the Bible is fine so long as it doesn't get in the way of what they already believe.  Sort of like this, in fact:

At the same time, Wussow noted, “One of the propositions that Romans 13 stands for that government is ... an institution that’s been created by God, for the good of humanity.” Ultimately, he said, the idea of national borders — and that a government’s response is primarily to care for its own people — is also scriptural.

“I think if you just sort of step back and look at scripture, God seems to see the world in terms of nations,” he said, adding: “We think that every government has an obligation and responsibility to care first for those who are within its sovereignty and then answer the question, What can we do to extend compassion to those who are fleeing persecution.”

Uh, no; Paul was writing at a time when any disagreement with Rome, especially in writing, could get you crucified.  Paul was no fool, and no rabble rouser seeking the end of Roman tyranny.  The modern-day parallel would be the death of Jamal Khashoggi, murdered for the mildest of disagreements with the Saudi Royal Family.  Had he kept quiet, would he have been saying their rule is an unalloyed good?  Neither did Paul necessarily think Rome was O.K.  Besides, we have Jesus' word on that already (written down after Paul's letter to the church in Rome, but no matter):  "Give Caesar what is Caesar's, and God what is God's."  Not a lot of room there for saying God sees the world in terms of nations.  Especially since, as another evangelical Burton quotes, puts it:

But, Yang pointed out, the idea of civil disobedience — even when it comes specifically to immigration — is also deeply rooted in scripture. He cited the biblical story in the book of Genesis of Abraham smuggling his wife Sarah into Egypt, having her pose as his sister, to protect her. “People need to also understand that the laws are broken in scripture,” she said.

In fact, she argued: “The whole scripture is based on migration. Every single major biblical character was an immigrant. Jesus himself was a refugee. Abraham, who’s considered the father of our faith ... was an immigrant. Joseph was a victim of human trafficking.”

The problem, fundamentally, is getting people to read the scriptures, or just to listen to them.  The stories are very clear; but not if you don't know them, and most church goers just don't.  The problem is, also, you can't get two evangelicals to agree on what scripture says; why are you surprised whole congregations ignore most of what their pastors try to teach them?  Isn't there a story about this in Exodus?  Involving a golden calf?

Everything old is new again.

I would like to praise how this article ends, because it ends this way:

White evangelicals, in other words, are only part of the story of evangelicalism in America. And as their numbers shrink, an “evangelical” approach to politics may come to look very different.

But the context of that remark is that "evangelicals" are changing as people from Latin America, Asia, and Africa, come to America and establish non-white evangelical churches.  "Evangelical," in other words, is still the default setting of "Christian" in America.  So, the rest of you who are Christian but not "evangelical"?  You don't count.  Go home, you're wasting your time.   The evangelicals are, as they've always insisted, the "true Christians."  The rest are to be ignored.  The media has spoken, and who can argue with them?

P.S.  I wrote this, finished it, published it, then found a link to this post in my statistics.  Yeah, I've talked about this before, from another direction.  That doesn't surprise me.  What does is that two people found it, which was enough to bring it to my attention.  You call it what you want; I call it a sign the Holy Spirit has a wicked sense of humor.  We could argue the point, but how would we know which of us was right without agreeing not to change our opinions before we started?

Happy Thanksgiving and F U to the Troops--Yr. Commander in Chief




"Protecting the nation"?  From men, women and children seeking asylum in accordance with U.S. law?  And "protecting the nation" by stringing up concertina wire and then standing back because that's literally all they can do?

Meanwhile, Trump is off to Mar A Lago for Thanksgiving dinner and a long weekend of...well, phone calls, I'm sure.  Phone calls keep him very busy.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Not Talking About the Elephant, either


And really, spending copious amounts of time pointing out how wrong Trump is about forest fires and Finland is just wasting time (the e-mail is interesting, though, if you're interested in the ecology of Finland).  Trump doesn't lie for clever or devious or strategic purposes.  He lies because he is stupid, and because he can't handle any part of reality impinging on what vestigial moral sense he still has.  He didn't stand among the ruins of Paradise, California (which he kept calling "Pleasure," again not a strategic choice, just more ignorance) to praise the Finns for their forest management skills; he just didn't know how to accept the devastation all around him, and so he blamed someone for getting on his last moral nerve (the few he has left).  It was, for Trump, an expression of compassion, even sympathy.  Rather than bash Californians to their face (he's too much of a coward for that), he offers them what he thinks is a solution to their problem.  Because he's truly incapable of anything more than blaming the victim.  True expressions of sympathy are simply beyond his ken.

He's not a strategic genius or a depraved despot; he's a sociopath.  He is not calculating and clever, hiding his true aims behind a cloud of media squid ink and a torrent of distractions.  He is precisely what he appears to be:  an emotionally stunted xenophobic racist misogynist no more fit for public office than the average 9 year old.

Submitted for your approval


something worth thinking about, as Advent impends (and this blog turns itself over to matters religious and liturgical for a month or so; don't say you weren't warned!):

One of the most fascinating arguments of the book is that while Christians knew there were problems with the text, it wasn’t the “faith killer” that it is today. Knust and Wasserman show that interest in the “original version” and “accuracy” of the New Testament texts is very much a recent phenomenon that began in the 18th and 19th centuries with the rise of critical scholarship.

Prior to that, and in the early Church in particular, Christians were more likely to have been used to thinking about the Jesus story in practice, rather than on paper. As they told me, “The stories and sayings Christians tell, hear, read, copy, illustrate, and perform, in and out of church, have always been as important—even more important!—for determining beliefs about ‘the gospel’ than the words in a given text.”

What the history of this story shows, as Knust and Wasserman so deftly demonstrate, is that even though this story doesn’t belong to the author of the Gospel of John (and, many might argue, probably never happened), this isn’t the central point. To early Christians this story had “broad appeal,” and that appeal was not exclusively grounded in the claim that it was historically accurate. As they write in the conclusion to their book, the “lesson” of the woman caught in adultery isn’t just that the text of the Gospels changed, but that what survived and counted as ‘authentic’ was greatly influenced by local liturgical traditions.  

This, if true, is fascinating; but I'm not sure it's true:

Though they are careful to point out that we don’t know for sure where the story came from or why it was added to the Gospel of John, Knust, an associate professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at Boston University, and Wasserman, a professor of Biblical Studies at Ansgar Teologiske Høgskole in Norway, told The Daily Beast that the interpolation took place “in a context where Greek was used but Latin was also spoken, and probably because the interpolator thought it fit best into that Gospel.” They added that “we can only speculate about why John and not some other Gospel,” but mentioned several theories, including the prominence of stories about women in the Fourth Gospel. They also note the intriguing theory of New Testament scholar Chris Keith that, in addition to portraying Jesus as forgiving, the story also presents Jesus as able to write. Perhaps it was added, then, to combat the scandalous accusation that Jesus wasn’t fully literate.

Kind of depends on who you're trying to impress.  Full widespread literacy didn't occur the late Middle Ages.  Paul could read, but could only write his name.  He dictated his letters to a secretary, somebody who could write as he talked.  Jesus of Nazareth was undoubtedly illiterate, a fact that wouldn't have bothered those who heard him (or initially followed him) at all.  The people demanding Jesus be portrayed as literate (didn't Luke do that already, with young Jesus in the Temple?) were not the same people listening to the stories of Jesus and enjoying the nativity (and later morality) plays in church in December.  Anyway, an interesting (if old, again; at least in seminary and scholarship circles) issue that made me want to pull down my copy of Bultmann on the Gospel of John, which I will do if the pace of the holidays relents long enough to let me (gotta line up those advent posts!).

Not Thinking of an Elephant

Still keeping them away

George Lakoff (trying to revive his pundit credentials) says Trump lies to distract us from the "big truths." Funny thing, he never says what those "big truths" are. But he agrees with the Very Serious People that the voters we must worry about are the truck drivers at truck stops because everyone who is Serious agrees that's the narrative.

And if the media would only buy (from Lakoff) and then sell Lakoff's "truth sandwiches" (I am NOT making that up!), Trump would vanish with a stamp of his foot like Rumplestiltskin, and our long national nightmare would at last be over. Again, presumably; it's not really clear what Lakoff thinks would happen, but probably it would be wonderful.

Not to pick on Lakoff alone, because this is something a number of pundits and would-be pundits have chosen to gnaw on as the worry bone of American life:

Even if all politicians lie, I believe that post-truth foreshadows something more sinister. In his powerful book “On Tyranny,” historian Timothy Snyder writes that “post-truth is pre-fascism.” It is a tactic seen in “electoral dictatorships” – where a society retains the facade of voting without the institutions or trust to ensure that it is an actual democracy, like those in Putin’s Russia or Erdogan’s Turkey.

In this, Trump is following the authoritarian playbook, characterized by leaders lying, the erosion of public institutions and the consolidation of power. You do not need to convince someone that you are telling the truth when you can simply assert your will over them and dominate their reality

The context there is Trump's lies, but the analysis is that Trump's lies have some kind of performative existence.  If they did, we'd be much more like Putin's Russia or Erdogan's Turkey, and while Trump might wish that were true, the evidence is it's just not happening, viz:

A group of Senate Democrats is suing to block Matt Whitaker from serving as acting attorney general on grounds that his placement in the post was unconstitutional.

The suit, which is being filed by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is the latest and most aggressive salvo against the Whitaker appointment. Last week, the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel defended Whitaker’s promotion in a memo that drew immediate criticism for its expansive understanding of the president’s power. That view is in hot dispute, including from the state of Maryland, which petitioned a federal judge to stop him from serving on constitutional grounds.
....
“Installing Matthew Whitaker so flagrantly defies constitutional law that any viewer of Schoolhouse Rock would recognize it,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “President Trump is denying Senators our constitutional obligation and opportunity to do our job: scrutinizing the nomination of our nation’s top law enforcement official. The reason is simple: Whitaker would never pass the advice and consent test. In selecting a so-called “constitutional nobody” and thwarting every Senator’s constitutional duty, Trump leaves us no choice but to seek recourse through the courts.”

These are not the actions of political enemies being ground under the heel of a powerful despot.  Trump is so powerful and charismatic he goes to California and still blames them for the loss of property and lives there.  How's that working out for him?  Trump may be "following the authoritarian playbook," but nobody besides the scared old men of the NFL (who have dedicated the football season to "honoring our armed forces" and make their team coaching staffs wear camouflage decorated jackets on the sidelines) is following his lead.  When is this "something sinister" going to come to pass?  Because the evidence continues to mount that Democrats won a rout in House elections this year.

Then again, Putin and Erdogan aren't known for doing things like this:

But [John] Oliver argued that Trump’s “weirdest unforced error this week” came during a Medal of Freedom ceremony honoring the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (as well as the wife of one of Trump’s biggest donors). After naming Scalia’s nine children, Trump addressed Scalia’s widow, Maureen, who was in attendance. “You were very busy!” the president told her. “Wow. Wow. I always knew I liked him.”

“What are you doing, you strange, strange man!” Oliver exclaimed. “You’re essentially saying, ‘I like your dead husband because I like people who fuck a lot because I fuck a lot. Guess what? I just took a speech about your dead husband and made it about me fucking a lot. Sorry for your loss, come get your medal.’”

Funny how Trump's narcissism and complete lack of empathy never figure into these analyses of doom

Despite the media not making "truth sandwiches" instead of journalism, and the Democrats thinking we are all controlled by Enlightenment thinking, Democrats still managed an historic win this month.*  And managed it despite the pundits still insisting it didn't happen.

Maybe this is one more reason the narrative is that we all still need the pundits to explain our politics, and ourselves, to us. I mean, if they can't do that, what can they do?

*Apparently the majority of us still use facts to reach the right conclusion, but pundits trade in opinions, not facts.

God Damn America? (When a black man said it, it was a problem....)


Yeah, he's happy to put that on tape. And we should, of course, be very concerned, even if we aren't aligned with Dr. Young's politics (or theology):

 Matthew Wilson, an SMU associate professor of political science, is a leading expert on evangelical Christian voters.

“We should not underestimate the extent to which many evangelicals feel that the church faces existential threats in America today,” he wrote by email.

“The Democratic Party now embraces legal abortion, same-sex marriage, gender fluidity, and a secularized public square … Given all of that, it is not a stretch from the evangelical point of view to think of the Democratic Party as ‘godless.’ "

Where "godless" means "not right-wing enough, and too friendly to non-whites":

At Culberson’s post-election gathering, according to video from Houston television station KHOU, Young claimed a Pittsburgh-area Democratic Party chairman had been forced out over a Facebook repost about how Americans should “kneel at the cross.”

The post actually criticized NFL players’ anthem protests, one of several that seemed more like racial insults.

But Young took it out of context, telling the Republican gathering the Democratic Party is “no longer a party. It’s some kind of religion that is basically godless, and as long as America — and this is represented by every Democrat I know — does not believe in the sacredness of the life in the mother’s womb, God will not bless America or make us a great nation.”
In other words, the more like Trump we all are, the closer to God we all are.  Because: reasons.  And fear of a brown planet.

I wish I was exaggerating this.

Praising Donald Trump as a paragon of Christianity and bringing of blessings on the nation is curious, considering the blessings would flow from a racist misogynistic xenophobes who thinks the letter of Paul is to 2 Corinthians and communion is just a little water and a sip of wine and besides he has nothing to confess or regret, including never attending church.

Come to think of it, people like Ed Young don't think too much of the sacraments either, consider attendance at revivals a greater sign of personal holiness than attendance on Sunday morning, think "God helps those who help themselves" is from the book of Proverbs, and don't really care about confession or even moral responsibility, since once you're saved you've got it made, And church attendance is mostly to see who's NOT there or what condition they're in before noon on Sunday morning.  So yeah, I guess Donald Trump is religious by those standards, since his politics are to the right of Atilla the Hun, and that's what really matters..

Never thought much of Ed Young, and now I'm more than convinced the old man needs to retire. (He's almost 20 years older than me, it's time he shuffled off the stage.)

What's going on here is a political fight, pure and simple.  Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who won re-election without a sweeping mandate and saw Democrats make gains across the state, was honest enough to say the people who defeated Texas Republicans (or nearly did, like Beto) scare him.  He is a true believer in his right-wing fantasies, and the evidence that he's not supported by 90% of Texas has shaken him.  It's shaking religious "leaders," too (Young heads the largest Baptist church in Houston, but as a local mover and shaker he really doesn't even show up on the radar screen).  There's enough foolishness to go around here; for example:

This is where I usually turn to Professor Darrell L. Bock of the conservative Dallas Theological Seminary, the author of the 2016 book “How Would Jesus Vote? Do Your Political Views Really Align With the Bible?”

“I think the issue of abortion is an important one,” he wrote by email, and some Republicans consider Democrats godless because they dismiss debating other options and seem indifferent to taking any responsibility for a developing life.

Texas has refused to expand Medicaid, and has some of the most stringent measures for qualification for Medicaid in the country (basically you have to be homeless to qualify, and then you hardly get any help for medical needs).  that is a measure of how little Texas does to help the poor.  So Texas, under Republican control for over a quarter of a century, is "profoundly indifferent to taking any responsibility for a developing life."  And the Baptists in Texas aren't exactly known for their charity hospitals, orphanages, or other efforts to care for those whom Jesus spoke personally to.  (Is this the appropriate place to put in a plug for the German Evangelical church, which established a hospital, an orphanage, a mental asylum, and a mission for river workers on the Mississippi, shortly after the immigrants themselves got here?  These institutions still exist, some of them still explicitly tied to the successor United Church of Christ.  Baylor has a hospital in Dallas, a school of medicine, but no ties to the Baptists that I know of.)  So this is not a case of mixing religion in politics; it's much more a case of mixing politics in religion.

That's not a mixture that harms the state; it is an admixture that harms religion, though.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Today in Presidenting


They're not laughing at us; they're laughing at him.


“He’s a Hillary Clinton backer!” Trump snapped at Wallace.

“He was a Navy SEAL,” Wallace observed.

“It would be nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner,” Trump complained. “Wouldn’t it have been nice?”


“I did not back Hillary Clinton or anyone else,” he fact-checked. “I am a fan of President Obama and President George W. Bush, both of whom I worked for.”

“I admire all presidents, regardless of their political party, who uphold the dignity of the office and who use that office to bring the nation together in challenging times,” he continued.

“I stand by my comment that the president’s attack on the media is the greatest threat to our democracy in my lifetime,” he added. “When you undermine the people’s right to free press and freedom of speech and expression, then you threaten the Constitution and all for which it stands.”

And it seems like it was only yesterday:
Where Our President said (and I can't wait to hear how this is fake news):

“You’ve gotta take care of the floors, you know, the floors of the forest, very important,” Trump said, flanked by the current and future governors of California. “You look at other countries where they do it differently and it’s a whole different story.”

He added: “I was with the President of Finland and he called it a forest nation, and they spend a lot of time on raking and cleaning and doing things and they don’t have any problem, and when it is, it’s a very small problem.”

Incapable of empathy, he regards every situation which causes him moral pain as something to be blamed on others.  And yes, he is that clueless:
Really, really clueless:

Which is why the Finns are mocking him today. 

And echoing a quote prominent at this blog, the last word is from Pope Francis:

“Injustice is the perverse root of poverty,” Francis said at a Mass marking the Roman Catholic Church’s annual World Day of the Poor. “The cry of the poor daily becomes stronger but heard less, drowned out by the din of the rich few, who grow ever fewer and more rich.”

Francis also reiterated his support for migrants saying that people must pay attention to “all those forced to flee their homes and native land for an uncertain future”.  

Since Trump won't realize it was about him, he won't notice it was said.  Gonna be a long two years,  even longer with the pundits assuring us what just happened at the ballot box didn't really happen because they didn't call it first.


Yup.



What's that Orwell quote about seeing what's right in front of you? The "blue wave" was so big the pundits still can't see it.

Lordelpus

Apparently this started there, then went here:
(No surprise the President wouldn't defend his remarks in California), and then here:
Trump's inability to grasp the most basic features of the Constitution he swore to preserve, protect, and defend, continues unabated.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Why Doesn't This Thing Work Anymore?


Trump University will be the only school conducting such studies.

A special prosecutor is not, and never has been, a "principal officer" under Art. II of the Constitution, so a special prosecutor is never appointed subject to advice and consent of the Senate.  For the rest:  show me the evidence.


 
Golden Oldies don't work like they used to.  And now social media companies are against him?  Part of that international you-know-who conspiracy we're hearing about again, I guess.

Um....





Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Speaking of Dog Whistles



Interlopers!  Carpetbaggers!  Scalawags!  Outside agee-taters!

I guess you have to be from the South to hear that one, but Rubio is blowing it so hard his whistle probably broke.

Fake News?


Follow the bouncing ball, starting with that NYT article two days ago:

The secret ballistic missile bases were identified in a detailed study  published Monday by the Beyond Parallel program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a major think tank in Washington.
Jump back to last June:

The six-month report by independent experts monitoring the implementation of U.N. sanctions was submitted to the Security Council North Korea sanctions committee late on Friday.

“(North Korea) has not stopped its nuclear and missile programs and continued to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products, as well as through transfers of coal at sea during 2018,” the experts wrote in the 149-page report.


A Washington-based think tank on Monday said it has identified 13 of the estimated 20 undeclared missile operating bases in North Korea, while noting the somewhat-limited capabilities of the sites.

"Missile operating bases are not launch facilities,” Joseph Bermudez wrote in a report published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “While missiles could be launched from within them in an emergency, Korean People’s Army (KPA) operational procedures call for missile launchers to disperse from the bases to pre-surveyed or semi-prepared launch sites for operations.”

“North Korea’s decommissioning of the Sohae satellite launch facility, while gaining much media attention, obscures the military threat to U.S. forces and South Korea from this and other undeclared ballistic missile bases,” Bermudez wrote, adding that the sites appear to be "active and being reasonably well-maintained."


U.S. analysts said Monday they have located 13 secret North Korean missile development sites, underscoring the challenge that the Trump administration faces in trying to reach its promised broad arms control agreement with Pyongyang.

The administration has said it is hopeful about eventually reaching an agreement with North Korea. President Donald Trump declared after his historic summit in June that with President Kim Jong Un there was "no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea." But a report based on satellite imagery shows the complexity posed by an extensive network of weapons facilities that the U.S. wants to neutralize.
The New York Times (yesterday):

And Mr. Trump? He appears still happily convinced that love had conquered all. “We fully know about the sites being discussed, nothing new — and nothing happening out of the normal,” he said on Twitter on Tuesday. “Just more Fake News. I will be the first to let you know if things go bad!”

How bad they have to go before Mr. Trump abandons his delusions of an epochal achievement is anybody’s guess. But once he does, it is easy to imagine him unleashing even more of the apocalyptic language that raised tensions in 2017. The difference is that this time he will probably not have the support of China, Russia or South Korea, which took the June summit meeting as a signal to improve relations with North Korea and are not likely to turn back.
I suppose it's comforting that the U.S. knows about these bases.  That the President seems to think everything is fine, is far less comforting. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"We need to be careful of what we say. Words mean things these days."



Both the state elections department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which are run by Republican appointees, have said they have seen no evidence of voter fraud anywhere in the state and a Broward judge challenged anyone who has evidence of fraud to file a report.
And the President doesn't speak for the White House (!):

White House spokeswoman Mercedes Schlapp said Tuesday the president “obviously has his opinion” on the recount. Trump on Monday tweeted that “An honest vote count is no longer possible” in Florida, without elaborating, and said “new ballots showed up out of nowhere.” It was unclear what he was referring to. He demanded that the election night results — which showed the Republicans leading based upon incomplete ballot counts — be used to determine the winner.

Besides, why can't we just agree that the Republican won and be done with all this tedious "vote counting"?

“It’s been incredibly frustrating to watch. You have a 12,000-vote gap and the other candidate refuses to concede,” Schlapp said, referring to Scott’s opponent, incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. “So I think at this point that it’s going to go through the process of the manual recount and the machine recount and we’ll see what happens, but we’re confident that Rick Scott will be the next senator of Florida.” 
Speaking of speaking out:

The judge said he could see no evidence of any violations, and said “I am urging because of the highly public nature of this case to ramp down the rhetoric.”

“If someone in this lawsuit or someone in this county has evidence of voter fraud or irregularities at the supervisor’s office, they should report it to their local law enforcement officer,” Tuter said. “If the lawyers are aware of it, they should swear out an affidavit, but everything the lawyers are saying out there in front of the elections office is being beamed all over the country. We need to be careful of what we say. Words mean things these days.” 
The irony?  Under Florida law, the Republicans may end up getting what they want anyway (how conveeeeenient!):

In Palm Beach, Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher said the county’s 11-year-old tallying machines aren’t fast enough to complete the recount by Thursday. The county is doing the Senate race first and will then do the governor. If the deadline is not met in a race, the results it reported last Saturday will stand.

Is this a great country, or what?

In (partial) praise of "Bob Wahr"



Yeah, I supposed barbed wire is all that (or "bob wahr," as we say in Texas*), but this article is clearly written by a person who never had to put up a fence for livestock.  And the stuff used for livestock is not concertina wire or bearing razor sharp points; why would you want to injure your livestock?  I've seen cows nearly push a barbed wire fence over, oblivious as they are to the barbs (why do you think boots are made of cowhide?).  The serious barbed wire fence is a construct of 4x4 posts included in a pattern of regular round posts, with a separate twist of heavy wire run vertically through the strands of wire at regular intervals between the round posts to make the fence strong enough to keep the cows from pushing it down. It's not the wire that keeps them in; not modern barbed wire, anyway.  Most people can't afford that much material, though, and the fence posts are as likely to be thick branches as milled posts, with heavy 4x4's reserved for the anchoring corners.

Horses are a bit more sensible to the barbs, so you don't use the stuff around corrals or in stalls, where the more expensive (and labor intensive) choice of wood makes fences.  What I'm getting at is that barbed wire is strong (heavy enough to hold the barbs in place, and a twisted strand of two wires for that purpose) and cheap and easy to install.  You need:  a post-hole digger (never saw anyone do it with just a shovel), posts, tacks (u-shaped to hold the wire), a hammer, gloves (of course), and coils of wire.  Most of the fences I ever saw or repaired just drove the fence posts into deep enough holes (and narrow enough, hence the use of a post-hole digger) to hold the post firmly (no concrete involved, IOW).  Wire is then pulled as taut as possible, nailed into place, and you move on.  You can fence in quite a lot of acreage in quite a short time with a minimum of material.  Whatever barbed wire might have meant to the open range in the 19th century, or mean to those determined to imprison their fellow man (or keep him out, depending), to most people who even keep a horse in a pasture, it just means a simple, effective, and affordable means of keeping your livestock from wandering into someone else's property (or the open road).  Especially in the extreme weathers of Texas (hot, cold, rain, dry) which tend to destroy wooden fences rapidly, barbed wire rusts, but seldom decays (usually the tacks go first, or occasionally the fence posts).  And the wooden slats of a wood fence take several nails at either end; a string of wire takes one tack per strand on each post.  These simple economies can be very important.

*I don't speak a lot of Texan without being intentional about it, but I only pronounce "barbed wire" in one way, and it ain't BBC RP).


Presidentin' by Tweet is Hard!


Still doesn't understand the concept of the European Union, does he?  Unfair!

The European Union's import tariff on U.S. wine ranges from $0.11 to $0.29 per 750mL bottle, according to the California-based Wine Institute. The U.S., meanwhile, charges, between $0.05 and $0.14. 
And Trump still loves him some Steve Bannon:

Who does he think he's talking to?  Or maybe he's pissed at France?
That's gonna leave a mark.  And responding for France, Mr. Nate Silver:
Speaking of rain and cemeteries and failures to appear:
Sure, I believe him.  I mean, it's not like he's ever lied before. (and for those of you who want to chase down the lie and chew it like a rubber toy, James Fallows has your joy.)  By the next tweet there will have been a hurricane blowing across France that kept only Trump from attending.  And none of this explains why he couldn't drive over to Arlington Cemetery yesterday.

Clearly he's very busy now that he's back in D.C.  He didn't tweet this much on the plane to Europe.

I Alone Can Solve The Problems I Create!


And speaking of creating problems:

To which one can only reply:

And while we're on that topic, let's bring up the media, too:





Monday, November 12, 2018

Dear Mr. President



They aren't laughing at us.  They are laughing at you.

Worth 6000 words


I Guess He Was Right


Donnie Deutsch:

“This is so frightening and so simple, and people are going to try and understand why did Donald Trump not go pay homage to those military men who gave their lives for their country,” Deutsch said.

“I know this man, and I know this is going to sound insane,” he added. “You know probably the reason? His hair. This is what motivates this man. I’m not trying to be silly here. But it’s the truth. I know this man.”



Not, in other words, going to Arlington Cemetery to honor the veterans on Veteran's Day observed.

Weather.com forecasted [sic] a 100 percent chance of rain at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday.
Or he just really doesn't have it in him to honor the dead.  I heard part of his speech at the cemetery in France; his delivery was so wooden and stilted it was painful to listen to.   It's a tribute to the fallen that he doesn't speak over them.


So, AP is NOT "Fake News"?


What if CNN had called the election results?

Doesn't matter; everybody knows if it doesn't happen on TeeVee, it's not real!

"Massively infected"?  Probably with smallpox, from the caravan.

Brave, brave Sir Robin