Monday, March 01, 2021

The Tweet That Got Away

This is the tweet I meant to post about the “deep bench” of the GOP as exemplified by the straw poll at CPAC.   Too many tweets in a post spoils the broth; or something.  Anyway, with Trump complaining about voting (a strategy which worked well in Georgia) and continuing to whine he lost (good strategy for fundraising, by which I mean the greatest grift Trump ever stumbled on; lousy strategy for a politician), this is the GOP second string (I really don’t think, if it wasn’t clear, that Trump will run in 2024.  He needs the grift.  He’s also about to be knee-deep in criminal and civil suits. And his shtick is already old and threadbare.  If won’t continue to generate outrage and political power for him into the future.  He struck a chord once; he won’t strike it again.) But everyone who's ever watched TV knows an ad campaign runs out of of juice eventually. You can't run the same pitch for four years. Trump's grievance/"I was robbed" message won't play much longer.

WITCH HUNTS!

It can happen here.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Same Song, Second Verse

He looks, but he does not see. I don't even want to post videos of the speech. So I’ll tell the tale in tweets. I'm guessing that didn't work out so well, if only because his speech ran for 90 minutes. Or because of what he said: Unity! So much unity! Here's a new idea!  Let's unify against somebody! Math is hard, since he's never won the popular vote and he only won the electoral college once. And how will be pull off this fake three-peat? Not that he actually promised anything: Grifters gotta grift. Unity!  Well, for me, but not for thee.

Trump has a good thing going (though for how long is subject to conjecture). And he doesn't share with others.

Well, he has a good thing going for now: More popcorn!
SO SAY WE ALL! (even a lot of people at CPAC)

Don't Try This In Court, Kids!

When I threaten the established order of government, it's democracy inaction! (of course, losing 60 court cases should tell them what they are "pushing back" against; but clearly they don't speak "law").  Meanwhile:

I also understand Trump has so damaged the suburbs Republicans who actually understand elections fear even redistricting is screwed, since demographics and census info (and zip codes, etc.) may not mean shit, which means the GOP can't save itself with redistricting. This may well be the party of Trump, after all.  Just not in the way Trump wants it to be: And while we're on CPAC, let's look at that deep bench the GOP gives us: I think Harris/AOC could beat that ticket. Meanwhile, future's so bright: I have to pause here and remind everyone CPAC hasn't meant shit in national politics since Newt Gingrich shocked everyone and Rush Limbaugh still mattered (he was defunct as a political influence decades before he died). See? DeSantis? Gov. Absent has a better record to run on, even with the Texas winter debacle. And he doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell. Same crowd says: "No Trump? Well, then DeSantis (CPAC is in Florida), maybe Noem." Sure.

Get back to me in four years, see if anybody remembers any of this.

"First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All The Lawyers"

What could go wrong? Seems reasonable. Bi-partisanship NOW! (Also, does Ken realize Biden is Catholic? Or is that why he includes the Pope being rounded up? Finally: I truly think these people have always existed in American politics. What we are watching is how they swallow the GOP whole. And while I'm not impugning Ken, it really does all have to do with racism, the All-American original sin.  The insanity started when Goldwater lost, but it started juicing steroids when the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act were passed.)  Anyway, more on Ken: The interviewer is not the only one confused in that conversation. Ken thinks Amendments are appendices to the Constitution, not alterations of its provisions. We did the same thing with the election of U.S. Senators.  It's an idea that's as unconstitutional as the document itself, if only because the 2nd Amendment is: an amendment! Don't try to explain any of this to Ken, though.*

Am I the only one in the hinterlands who really doesn't give a shit about Gov. Cuomo? Is he a pig? Is he a molester of women? Seems like New York's problem, to me. I don't mind 'em talking about it, but don't assume Democrats across the nation have a stake in that conversation. If he was the governor of Arkansas or New Mexico, would anybody even notice this story? If New York weren't a major media center (because of NYC. How many national reports do you hear about life in the rest of that state?), would anybody even hear about this? You know they'll claim 82 million people tuned in to listen to Trump blather, no matter what. It's not even a question of reality. It's just a matter of which claim you like. Because, really, it's like Cuomo's follies: who really gives a shit? However many people want to watch Trump scream to the audience at CPAC, he's still a man who never won the popular vote and who cost his party the House, the Senate, and the White House, all in four years.

Nothing is gonna change that.

*Ken forced me to do some research.  What I found was hilarious.  The date for the inauguration was set, originally, for March 4.  That was changed in 1933, by the 20th Amendment, and FDR was the first President inaugurated on January 20.  It's worth noting that the date (March 4) fell on a Sunday in 1821, 1849, 1877, and 1917, so the Inauguration was held on the following Monday in those years.  Imagine such Constituitonal looseness today.

Anyway, the funny part:

The first president of the United States, George Washington, was not inaugurated until April 30. Although Congress scheduled the first inauguration for March 4, 1789, they were unable to count the electoral ballots as early as anticipated. Consequently, the first inauguration was postponed to allow the president-elect time to make the long trip from his home in Virginia to the nation’s capital in New York City.

Oh, the conspiracy theories!  O, the humanities! Clearly there was fraud involved!

There is no secret March 20 date in the Constitution.  Ken is conflating the date in the 20th Amendment with the month in Art. II, and coming up with zebra.  Ken is due to be very disappointed, if the sky on his planet is blue.

CPAC: This Is Your Government On GOP

 "It is a party that has been fashioned in the mold of Trump — Trump's message, Trump's tactics — and it is perfectly comfortable being a party that is defined by what it's against," he explained before adding, "... you become almost toxic as a party brand to larger, growing parts of the electorate. … The limitation of a message and a platform that's just about disagreeing with the opposition is that it doesn't speak to the broader concerns or anxieties of a big part of the electorate."

I'll keep saying this because it keeps being true.  Texas in winter is a microcosm of GOP governance.  Do nothing, praise business as the savior of all things, and find someone to blame when that explodes in your face.  The only thing being offered by Greg Abbott and Ken Paxton (who, like Abbott, is desperately looking for a distraction from his problems) and Dan Patrick (who is so crazy nobody invites him to the press conferences or utters his name in public.  They fear it would invoke him and he'd appear in a puff of smoke.) is blame.  That is, "disagreeing with the opposition."

Which, frankly, is how Republicans get elected in Texas:  by not being Democrats.  It works, usually.  It will probably work again in 2024 and 2026.  But it's not putting groceries on the tables of people queuing up for food 5 hours before the distributions start; it's not generating one kilowatt of power, or paying the outrageous bills of people who got screwed by the very market system Republicans told us would save us from the dreadful fates of benighted fools in the other 49 states; or fixing one leaky pipe (not really a government problem, but such distinctions are lost on people right now).  Nor is it making it easier for rural counties to get the disaster relief they need as desperately as urban counties do (who have the $$ and employees to file the paperwork.  It's incredible how much of the world runs on paperwork, especially government, and how quickly we forget that simple fact.  It's especially damaging when your governing philosophy is "government is bad, stand on your own two feet!").  Texas is happy to take federal funds; Texas doesn't give a shit if those funds don't get to every county in Texas that needs them.

This may not be a watershed event; but it should be.  This storm didn't effect the Gulf Coast or East Texas or the Valley or north Texas or the Panhandle or.... It affected all of Texas all at once, and the response is coming primarily from:  Beto O'Rourke and volunteers; AOC and her social media presence; and food banks, which are still handing out massive amounts of food because so many people, after covid and a solid week (or more; some employers may still be cleaning up/waiting for plumbing supplies and plumbers) of no business are facing no paycheck and do they pay rent or buy food (and where do they get water?), are absolutely up against it.  And they may decide blaming someone else for their problems is not really the job of government.

It could happen.

Why Won't Democrats Act In A Bi-Partisan Manner?

All the TV pundits/new show hosts say it's the right thing to do.

Even as they cover CPAC.


Because, you know, this is normal.....

The Real Answer Is:

John Roberts declared the Year of Jubilee and the Supreme Court has decided the 15th Amendment doesn't need implementing legislation (pretty much true since it was passed, one way and another) and besides, only certain people really deserve the vote.

And that's as American as violence and cherry pie.

Not A Lenten Meditation, But It Should Be

Mitt Romney says you're lazy and would stop working altogether for a mere $400 a week. If you wonder why rural Texas communities don't like "big government," in part it's because they don't have enough government to afford people who can make out the kind of reports the Feds need in order to disburse disaster relief funds to them. This is a function of the state, which has tremendous control over counties, and offers zero support. Gov. Absent is not offering to help these counties. He's trying to find someone to take the blame for the winter storm that froze the state. He's done less about that than Trump did about Covid. Gov. Absent and the entire Texas GOP going back decades, generations now, thought that was a great idea: not to force power suppliers to prepare for cold weather. That idea is now an orphan, a bastard, AND a red-headed stepchild. No one even knows who let it in the house. You know that kid in the basement in Omelas? This idea envies that kid's treatment. Tell me something truly substantive Joe Biden has done in the last 5 weeks OTHER than deal with covid and improve the distribution of the vaccines. I doubt those who don't approve of his "job performance" could name anything, either. This, too, is part of the reason we froze to death for a week, and are now looking for someone to blame. No one ever wants to look in the mirror.

We Are Always Only One Step Away...

...from the Roman Empire.

Or some people wish we were.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

So The Lesson Here...

...is that the people in South Dakota don't give a shit about each other?

I mean, I know Gov. Absent is bad; but he's not this bad.

Saturday Of The First Week Of Lent 2021


And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord.

And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?

That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:

Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.

And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty's sake.

And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.

And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty's sake.

And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.

Genesis 18:20-32, KJV

Incline us, O god, to think humbly of ourselves, to be saved only in the examination of our own conduct, to consider our fellow creatures with kindness, and to judge of all they say and do with the clarity which we would desire from them ourselves.

--Jane Austen

Towards four o'clock in the morning, being restless and unable to sleep, I went quietly to my friend's room and discovered my poor friend lying unconscious on the floor.  We carried him to bed. And though we used all possible care, I fear this moving him was fatal. He vomited blood in great quantities.  The lady who shares my life had made a thorough study of medicine and was able to inform me regarding his condition and do all that was required.  Her diagnosis was a very grave one.  But the hemorrhage had subsided.  While I was awaiting the doctor, our friend regained consciousness.  Yet he did not speak.  Great beads of perspiration were rolling over his brow and cheeks. His eyes, which I could scarcely see under his heavy half-closed lids, told of great anguish.  I felt his pulse and it was rapidly growing weak. We sent a boy to go and fetch our parish priest.  The dying man motioned to me to give him his rosary.  I found it in one of his pockets; and from that moment he held it pressed to his breast.  Then some strength returned to him, and in a voice one could hardly hear he asked me for absolution.  His face became more at peace, he smiled even. Although I realized I had no right to accede over-hastily to this request it was quite impossible in the name of humanity and friendship to refuse him.  May I add that I was able to discharge this duty in a spirit which need leave you with no possible misgivings.

The priest was still on his way, and finally I was bound to voice my deep regret that such a delay threatened to deprive my comrade of the final consolations of our church.  He did not seem to hear me. But a few moments later he put his hand over mine, and his eyes entreated me to draw closer to him.  He then uttered these words almost into my ear. And I am quite sure that I have recorded them accurately, for his voice, though halting, was strangely distinct.

"Does it matter?  Grace is everywhere...."

I think he died just then.


--Georges Bernanon

What Could Go Wrong?

Grifters gotta grift.

"Do You Pwn The Libs? Or Not?"

Shorter Ron DeSantis. And this is the guy some Republicans want to see in place of Trump.

Combined with shorter Trump, Jr.
"Lose like a loser!"

2024 is a very long way off.  Gonna seem even longer to the GOP.

LOCK HER UP!

So sometimes words don’t mean things; even when they should.

The age we live in, huh?

Still, strawberries and feta?  Some things you shouldn’t share with strangers. Or friends, for that matter.

On second thought, feta and strawberries might work. But not with pasta...

I Am Privileged, Hear Me Whine

MTG didn't want to be "heard."

She wanted to have things her way.

The anecdote that opens the article is her disagreement with “Drag Queen Story Hour” at her library.  She’s a taxpayer.  She’s a resident of the town.  Why would the library do something she didn’t want done?  “Listen to me” is not “hear my voice,” it’s:  do things the way I’m comfortable with.”

We’re gonna be having this discussion for a long time.

Friday, February 26, 2021

"The Republican Party is not the party of the country clubs"

Ted Cruz lives in River Oaks, the most expensive real estate in Houston. It's where the old oil money in Houston established mansions with palatial lawns. There may be Democrats in Ted's neighborhood, but I guarantee there aren't any steel workers, construction workers, taxi drivers, cops, firefighters, or waitresses living anywhere near him. They may come there to work, but they ain't there when the sun goes down. Except the cops, protecting the property that costs more than they'll make in two lifetimes.

Oh, and there's a country club there, too.  Very exclusive, at least in terms of money.  Very old money kind of place.

Could be they don't like Ted Cruz either, though.

At What Point...

Are Republicans in disarray? Never? I mean, are lemmings in disarray as they go over the cliff?

And the cherry on the sundae:

Sen. Cornyn Is In Houston With President Biden

Ted Cruz is at CPAC. He really makes this too easy.

Seen here returning from Mexico.

We all know why he wore the Texas flag mask that day. And truth be told:
We don't want him back in Texas, either.

O Happy Day

 Apparently the Texas Lege met to talk on camera about who was responsible for the power debacle of 2021.  Not how to solve it or make sure it never happens again, but who to blame.

What, you think Trump invented that kind of governmental ineptitude?

But according to ERCOT, we've found the problem:The grid that covers most of Texas lost an extraordinary amount of power, about 52,000 megawatts, Magness said. That’s enough to power more than 10 million Texas homes at peak demand. The loss stayed near those extreme levels for days due to power plants’ inability to restart as temperatures remained below freezing in large swaths of Texas, making what should have been short, rotating outages into a days-long crisis.

“In other events when we’ve had rotating outages, like in 2011, the ability of generation to come back didn’t take nearly as long,” he said. 

The amount of demand on the grid could have climbed to more than 70,000 megawatts on Feb. 15 if outages had not been implemented, ERCOT estimates. But that day, supply fell rapidly to fewer than 50,000 megawatts. It’s imperative to keep the electrical grid balanced — otherwise, Texas could have risked uncontrolled blackouts that may have lasted weeks, if not months, officials said.

...

All forms of energy — natural gas, wind, coal and nuclear plants — experienced outages last week.

Natural gas generation was particularly challenged, data shows: Outages from natural gas plants spiked from around 11,000 megawatts to near 25,000 megawatts in the early hours of Feb. 15. The inability of gas-fired power plants to get enough fuel was also a much more severe problem last week than during the 2011 storm, according to ERCOT’s data.

“If you don’t have natural gas fuel, you can’t run a natural gas plant,” Magness said. “We saw a lot of fuel issues in the system.”

There was loose talk about windmills again; but Texas is not going to order windmills be dismantled.  In fact, if Texas does anything, it will be full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.  Because the system worked as designed.

But at least we know what actually went wrong. And we know why it went wrong. Which is why we also know nothing will be done about it.


It seems the Texas Public Utility Commission, not power generators, raised the price of electricity in Texas to $9000 a megawatt hour. They did it because the computer that was supposed to regulate prices for them failed. They did it in a six-minute emergency meeting. They did it to give the producers of electricity incentive to produce more electricity. That didn’t work because the incentive didn’t include natural gas to fuel the generators, because the equipment was frozen, because the gas couldn’t be delivered or burned, because the market didn’t incentivize anyone to prepare for winter.

And they did it because this is how the system the Legislature set up was designed to work. So the fact is, nothing went wrong. We designed it to work this way, and we got what we asked for.

O happy day.

Florida Sez:

Texas sez: Hold mah beer. Abbott is desperate to change the subject, since nobody is blaming windmills anymore:

Gov. Greg Abbott was mostly silent publicly ahead of the winter storm, and his office did not warn Texans that many of them would be without electricity and water for days during subfreezing temperatures. After widespread outages, he placed the blame firmly on ERCOT and made reforming the operator an emergency item for the Legislature.

State Rep. Rafael Anchía, D-Dallas, accused Abbott of ignoring the role that the PUC played in the crisis. Officials of the commission that regulates ERCOT are appointed by the governor.

“There's this very carefully curated discussion of blame by the governor that always speaks to ERCOT ... and never mentioned the Public Utility Commission,” Anchía said. “The PUC bears responsibility here as well.”

The head of the PUC, DeAnn T. Walker, appeared before lawmakers on Thursday after Magness testified for roughly five hours. She deflected much of the responsibility for the power outages to ERCOT, downplaying the PUC's authority over the operator.

Later, in the House, Anchía quizzed Walker surrounding the PUC’s authority over ERCOT, concluding that the commission did have decision-making ability over the operator.

“It seems to me, comprehensive," Anchía said.

“We told you to report to us if you thought we were unprepared because we had promised our constituents, ‘This was not going to happen again,’ and we told PUC to take care of it," he said. "And we gave you power, we gave you rule-making authority to take care of it."

Anchía said the PUC was empowered to winterize with legislation passed in 2011, after frigid temperatures caused equipment failures and blackouts. He asked if the commission ever submitted a report as was it was authorized to in the bill. Walker answered no.

State Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Robstown, the vice chair of the energy resources committee, noted that Abbott had welcomed resignations from ERCOT members. He asked Walker if the governor had asked for hers.

“He has not,” she said.

Deaths from coronavirus are an abstraction.  Comparing them to the dead from wars doesn't make these deaths more concrete.  If Abbott adds to the pile of bodies but saves his political hide, don't expect him not to pile the bodies as high as necessary to hide the truth about the winter storm of 2021.

Friday Of The First Week Of Lent 2021


 

From this Sundays prayer by Nadia Bolz-Weber, an ELCA pastor and writer. "Help me to stop feeling like everything is a test. A test of my compassion. A test of my fortitude. A test of my faith. Help me remember that I am not being graded. I am being guided. Guided to see that maybe I have a greater capacity to be ok when everything is horrible than I thought I did, but that it is not limitless, and it does not need to be."

Again; not mine, nor from my readings this time.  Left on the doorstep, so to speak.

May it be unto you according to your faith.

Dear America:

We’re all sorry he didn’t just stay in Mexico.

-Signed: Texas 

Money Where Your Mouth Is

I don't pay for access to Esquire, so I can’t elaborate.  The tweet tells you all you need to know.  

Defense contractors are important.  People?  People ain’t shit.

Ideas don’t matter.  Things don’t matter.  
People matter.

The Problem Of The Narrative

Not exactly what AP reported: On the other hand, it’s still not a Hot Take on the essence of modern life.  Ah, dem was de days. (I had one of those, where you supplied the potato.)

Thursday, February 25, 2021

😂😂😂

Let’s Look Forward....

Not backward. Right, Ted? A reminder that Ted thinks one of the biggest problems in his life are his neighbors’ yard signs for his political opponent.

Numbers Games

Feature, Not Bug


In April 2019, Facebook was preparing to ban one of the internet’s most notorious spreaders of misinformation and hate, Infowars founder Alex Jones. Then CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally intervened.

Jones had gained infamy for claiming that the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school massacre was a “giant hoax,” and that the teenage survivors of the 2018 Parkland shooting were “crisis actors.” But Facebook had found that he was also relentlessly spreading hate against various groups, including Muslims and trans people. That behavior qualified him for expulsion from the social network under the company's policies for "dangerous individuals and organizations," which required Facebook to also remove any content that expressed “praise or support” for them.

But Zuckerberg didn’t consider the Infowars founder to be a hate figure, according to a person familiar with the decision, so he overruled his own internal experts and opened a gaping loophole: Facebook would permanently ban Jones and his company — but would not touch posts of praise and support for them from other Facebook users. This meant that Jones’ legions of followers could continue to share his lies across the world’s largest social network.

"Mark personally didn’t like the punishment, so he changed the rules,” a former policy employee told BuzzFeed News, noting that the original rule had already been in use and represented the product of untold hours of work between multiple teams and experts.


Political content was never supposed to be eligible for Facebook's "In Feed Recommendations." Yet, unsolicited conservative political content was being pushed into users' Facebook feeds via In Feed Recommendations. 

In Feed Recommendations is Facebook’s way of giving users a taste of different content by inserting posts from accounts they don’t follow into their newsfeed based on what each user already likes.

According to BuzzFeed, users even complained to the company in the spring of last year regarding right wing pundits, like Ben Shapiro, showing up in their feeds even though they never showed any interest in that type of content.

This political content wasn't supposed to be there, but it was still being inserted into feeds via In Feed Recommendations even after Facebook was made aware. Why? 

Facebook’s policy team told the company’s employees in August that it was being done to avoid complaints from prominent conservative figures.

....

The exceptions to the policy changes seem to have only applied to conservative personalities and outlets.

I really don't have any use for Facebook; never have.   

I'm Sorry, But "Potato Head"....

...sounds more like an insult than a title. Is "Mr." really a problem? 

On the other hand, this matter is about as serious as this one: Personally, I wouldn't touch a "Shamrock Shake" with a club. But that's just me; and the fact I'm old enough to remember when "milk shakes" were made with real milk, and with ice cream made with real cream. I even remember when you could buy milk shake blenders like they had in burger joints and drugstore lunch counters (yeah, I remember those, too) to make your own at home. So maybe it's the snobbishness of nostalgia, and nothing else. Elitism comes in all forms.

Which is dangerously close to a Hot Take on the essence of modern life, so I'd better stop there.

Thursday Of The First Week Of Lent 2021


Now there was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, 6 who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachin[a] king of Judah. 7 Mordecai had a cousin named Hadassah, whom he had brought up because she had neither father nor mother. This young woman, who was also known as Esther, had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Mordecai had taken her as his own daughter when her father and mother died.

8 When the king’s order and edict had been proclaimed, many young women were brought to the citadel of Susa and put under the care of Hegai. Esther also was taken to the king’s palace and entrusted to Hegai, who had charge of the harem. 9 She pleased him and won his favor. Immediately he provided her with her beauty treatments and special food. He assigned to her seven female attendants selected from the king’s palace and moved her and her attendants into the best place in the harem.

10 Esther had not revealed her nationality and family background, because Mordecai had forbidden her to do so.

Esther 2:5-10

10 Hearken, O daughter, and consider, and incline thine ear; forget also thine own people, and thy father's house;

11 So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him.

12 And the daughter of Tyre shall be there with a gift; even the rich among the people shall intreat thy favour.

13 The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold.

14 She shall be brought unto the king in raiment of needlework: the virgins her companions that follow her shall be brought unto thee.

15 With gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought: they shall enter into the king's palace.

Psalm 45:10-15, KJV

15 When the turn came for Esther (the young woman Mordecai had adopted, the daughter of his uncle Abihail) to go to the king, she asked for nothing other than what Hegai, the king’s eunuch who was in charge of the harem, suggested. And Esther won the favor of everyone who saw her. 16 She was taken to King Xerxes in the royal residence in the tenth month, the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign.

17 Now the king was attracted to Esther more than to any of the other women, and she won his favor and approval more than any of the other virgins. So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 And the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his nobles and officials. He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality.

Esther 2:15-18

but my dove, my perfect one, is unique,

    the only daughter of her mother,

    the favorite of the one who bore her.

The young women saw her and called her blessed;

    the queens and concubines praised her.

Friends

10 Who is this that appears like the dawn,

    fair as the moon, bright as the sun,

    majestic as the stars in procession?

11 I went down to the grove of nut trees

    to look at the new growth in the valley,

to see if the vines had budded

    or the pomegranates were in bloom.

12 Before I realized it,

    my desire set me among the royal chariots of my people.

Song of Songs 6:9-12

12 Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal secretaries were summoned. They wrote out in the script of each province and in the language of each people all Haman’s orders to the king’s satraps, the governors of the various provinces and the nobles of the various peoples. These were written in the name of King Xerxes himself and sealed with his own ring. 13 Dispatches were sent by couriers to all the king’s provinces with the order to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews—young and old, women and children—on a single day, the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, the month of Adar, and to plunder their goods. 14 A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so they would be ready for that day.

15 The couriers went out, spurred on by the king’s command, and the edict was issued in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink, but the city of Susa was bewildered.

Esther 3:12-15

Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.

2 For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.

3 They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones.

4 They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.

Psalm 83:1-4

Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”

12 When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

Esther 4:10-16

In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.

2 Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape: incline thine ear unto me, and save me.

3 Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress.

4 Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.

5 For thou art my hope, O Lord God: thou art my trust from my youth.

Psalm 71:1-5

So the king and Haman went to Queen Esther’s banquet, 2 and as they were drinking wine on the second day, the king again asked, “Queen Esther, what is your petition? It will be given you. What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be granted.”

3 Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. 4 For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated. If we had merely been sold as male and female slaves, I would have kept quiet, because no such distress would justify disturbing the king.[a]”

5 King Xerxes asked Queen Esther, “Who is he? Where is he—the man who has dared to do such a thing?”

6 Esther said, “An adversary and enemy! This vile Haman!”

Then Haman was terrified before the king and queen. 7 The king got up in a rage, left his wine and went out into the palace garden. But Haman, realizing that the king had already decided his fate, stayed behind to beg Queen Esther for his life.

8 Just as the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman was falling on the couch where Esther was reclining.

The king exclaimed, “Will he even molest the queen while she is with me in the house?”

As soon as the word left the king’s mouth, they covered Haman’s face. 9 Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs attending the king, said, “A pole reaching to a height of fifty cubits[b] stands by Haman’s house. He had it set up for Mordecai, who spoke up to help the king.”

The king said, “Impale him on it!” 10 So they impaled Haman on the pole he had set up for Mordecai. Then the king’s fury subsided.

Esther 7:1-10

7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.

8 The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands.

Psalm 138:7-8


No, none of this selection or arrangement of verses is original with me.  It came up in one of my Lenten readers, and I thought it an interesting use of scripture without reprinting the entire book of Esther, or engaging necessarily in Bible study.  May it be unto you according to your faith.

Thinking Of The Children

The most interesting part of this story, the part that gets lost immediately, is the reason why the dorm and its cafeteria were closed.

The dorm was being used for a summer program for children.  Per state law, as a protection for the children, no adult was allowed in that building who had not been subject to a criminal background check.  That’s neither intrusive nor unusual; I had to wait for one to be completed before I could work as a substitute teacher in a public school over 10 years ago.

So the reason the student was questioned, even gently challenged about being in the cafeteria, had nothing to do with race, and everything to do with state law because the college campus was housing children, not adults (under/over the age of 18 is the distinction here) at the time.  Curiously, that fact seems to have disappeared from all the discussion and analysis and investigation that followed. Like here, for example:
The Big Idea must be served, people be damned! Well, some people....

But any analysis of the matter which doesn’t take into account the primary purpose for questioning why an adult was in the closed cafeteria doesn’t really examine the situation fairly.

Cancel My Reservations

Yeah, that's not gonna get old anytime soon.


President Joe Biden will travel to Texas on Friday as the state continues to suffer from numerous crises spurred by the recent historic winter storms that sent the region into an arctic chill, the White House announced on Tuesday.

The trip, one of the first domestic travel plans for the new president, comes after millions of Texans went without power for several days during the unprecedented storms, and as local and federal officials grapple with the potential for new statewide food and water insecurities.

....

First Lady Dr Jill Biden was also scheduled to attend the trip to Texas on Friday alongside the president. Other prominent democrats, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D—NY), have visited Texas in recent days to take part in community service efforts. 

As Mr Biden is visiting Texas, Mr Cruz will be speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at 10:50 a.m. for a discussion titled “Bill of rights, Liberty, and Cancel Culture,” according to the event schedule. 

But...but...he handed out water bottles for a photo op! 

Is it still uncivil to point out what an asshole Ted Cruz is?


Going Back To My Remarks About Racism In America

17% is not an insignificant amount, but neither is it 25% or anywhere close to 50%.  I'd like a baseline of conspiracy theories for comparison, and I don't mean thinkgs like flat-earth or the moon landing was faked (although I suspect you might find close to 17% when that conspiracy theory was at its most popular).

Racism and racist thinking is, I still contend, not fundamentally different from conspiratorial thinking.  It rests on misinformation and lies and fiction; it is fervidly adhered to by its proponents, and filters into the general culture in ways both malicious and perilous.  If anything it's even more pernicious, since the very concept of "race" was started to distinquish "us" from "them" (always a vast and shadowy horder who would take what "we" had, or certainly bring civilization into chaos if "we" were not ever vigilant.  What do you think "white man's burden" was?).  We talk about discarding racism.  Seldom do we talk about discarding the very concept of "race".

Far more than 17% of the American public holds some attitude about "race," which in itself is almost by definition an adherence to racism ("Oh, no!", we cry.  "Racism is fare worse than recognizing racial characteristics!"  But is it?  Really?  And no, we can't discard "race" with a wave of the hand and make everything all well again.  But until we work toward full equality for persons, and toward eliminating distinctions based on the very concept of race, we won't get to the former.).  So I'm wondering:  is 17% believe a completely crackpot notion of Satan worshippers and pedophilia secretly runs the world (replacing the International Jewish Conspiracy, among other things)(and again I point out the roots of this ridiculous notion lie in the news stories of the '80's and '90's, when mothers and fathers turned their children over to strangers for "day care," and the anxiety of the era gave rise to actual court cases in which people were convicted for Satanic worship and abuse, physical and sexual, of the children in their care.  That was nonsense and bullshit, too; but it was sanctioned by the courts themselves, through criminal convictions.  When even the courts are in on it, however well-meaningly, how do you prove it was all lies and frightening fairy tales?).

Sorry for so many digressions, but the question remains:  what is this 17% number in context?  As Forster said:  "Context is all."

More Money Is More Money, Except When You're Poor...

...beceause if you weren't so shiftless, you wouldn't be so poor.

Federal minimum wage (which = minimum wage in states like Texas, which still think people should be paid according to what the boss wants to pay....) is $7.25 an hour. If you can get a job that works you 40 hours a week (harder than Mitt thinks, I've no doubt), you can make a grand total of $290 a week before taxes.

Why you would want to keep that job rather than quit and make $400 a week, instead of $690 a week, is just proof that people like Romney don't really think in terms of numbers, they just think in terms of costs.

If my income could double, why would I turn down the extra cash?  It actually goes against the reasoning of most "free-market" conservatives, because more money is more money.  Isn't that the incentive that's supposed to drive us all and make America The Greates Country In The World? Did Mitt stop before he became richer than Croesus?  Has Jeff Bezos said Amazon has sold enough, now he will give stuff away, or just sell it at cost?

But when it comes to the working poor, they don't want to work, and they like to live poor, and besides they'd just squander the money on drink and cigarettes and coffee.  Right, Mr. Mormon?

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Talking About Ted Cruz...

For this? Meh. Cruz is an asshole. And a Republican. But I repeat myself.

Talking about this? Much more productive; or at least enjoyable.  And if I could get a Dan Patrick pinata, or better Dan Patrick hanging in effigy, it would be even better.  A matched set!

Wednesday Of The First Week Of Lent: 2021

 


Go to the ant, thou lazybones;
consider its ways, and be wise,
Without having any chief
or officer or ruler,
it prepares its food in summer,
and gathers its sustenance in harvest.
How long will you lie there, O lazybones?
When will you rise from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber, 
a little folding of the hands to rest,
and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want, like an armed warrior.

--Proverbs 6:6-11

O Lord and Master of my life!
Take from me the spirit of sloth, of vain curiosity;
lust for power, and idle talk.

But give to me, your servant,
a spirit of soberness, humility,
patience and love.

Yes, Lord and King,
grant me to see my own faults
and not to judge my neighbor,
for you are blessed to the ages of ages.  Amen.

--Ephrem the Syrian, Fourth Century

The basic disease is sloth.  It is that strange laziness and passivity of our entire being which always pushes us "down" rather than "up"--which constantly convinces us that no change is possible and therefore desirable.  It is in fact a deeply rooted cynicism which to every spiritual challenge responds, "what for?" and makes our life one tremendous spiritual waste.  It is the root of all sin because it poisons the spiritual energy at its very source.

--Alexander Schmemann

I've gotta start the day earlier tomorrow....

If I Was Looking For An Excuse...

I’d say this is why Romney did it. But maybe it’s just an explanation.

Social Media Is The Problem?

You'll have to read the TechDirt article to get the gist of this story, but what it comes down to is that Dave Karpf used the name of Bret Stephens in a tweet about the New York Times, and Mr. Stephens took such umbrage at the louche use of his name in a tweet nobody else noticed (Mr. Karpf probably has more followers than I do, but not many more, I'm guessing) that he sent angry e-mails to Mr. Karpf and the provost of the college he teaches for.

But even that is small beer compared to Mr. Stephens using his platform as an Op-Ed columnist for the NYT to write about the incident.  Twice.  As TechDirt points out, it's the Streisand Effect plus Godwin's Law (yes, Nazis enter into it, via Mr. Stephens; and yes, Professor Karpf is Jewish) with some cancel culture thrown in for spice and because, isn't everything cancel culture now?  Except cancel culture is supposedly a fact of social media (it doesn't apply to CPAC?) and Godwin's Law is meant to apply to on-line discussions which are usually conducted like an argument on the school playground in about 3rd grade.  And Mr. Stephens took it to his megaphone on the pages of the New York Times.  Twice.

Because, you know, the real problem in the world is this new and potent thing called social media.  I mean, lorry nose, it's not people!