Or have ever heard of, period.Giuliani said Trump was reimbursing Cohen beginning almost immediately after the election. https://t.co/AbECyFqRuG— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) March 1, 2019
Thursday, February 28, 2019
TUCKER CARLSON: Michael Cohen is a liar and Dems are dumb for believing him in the first place.— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 1, 2019
ALSO TUCKER CARLSON: Cohen testified there was no collusion! Checkmate libs! pic.twitter.com/bcarL4iRZj
Hannity insists Cohen "was never my attorney" - Cohen said in court Hannity was 1 of his 3 clients - then says Cohen told him he decided to make hush payments on his own— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 1, 2019
"He said to me a dozen times he made the decision on the payments & he didn't tell you"
"Yup," Trump replies pic.twitter.com/NqhLJi7guH
Or they just can't keep their lies straight:
Sean Hannity tells President Trump in his interview that he was told by Michael Cohen “he made the decision on the payments and didn’t tell you.”— Salvador Hernandez (@SalHernandez) March 1, 2019
Here’s the tape of Cohen talking to Trump about paying off a former Playboy model https://t.co/hhh5rTx1fV
"Even by today's standards, this was stunning television — dramatic and draining and personal," @poniewozik writes https://t.co/WEfVQsVnRj— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 28, 2019
Mark Meadows took offense at being called a racist, despite being a "birther" back in the day.
And Donald Trump thinks Michael Cohen exonerated him on the charge of coordinating with Russia to win the election in 2012.
What the media are repeating, even today, are the words from Michael Cohen's opening statement: that Trump is a liar, a cheat, and a racist. Richard Nixon famously tried to deflect responsibility for Watergate with the non-sequitur "I am not a crook." It was a non-sequitur because Nixon wasn't accused of being a crook, but of being corrupt and abusing the power of his office in ways meant to benefit Nixon, not the nation. Trump, apparently, doesn't mind being called a racist, a conman, and a liar, or the multiple charges in Cohen's testimony that Trump is using his office to enrich Trump, not in service of the nation.
Just don't say he used Russian help to win the election.
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
And remember with a sigh (and a shiver) this is what we have to look forward to until at least 2021:This woman's reaction to Cohen saying there might not be a peaceful transition of power if Trump loses next year pretty much says it all pic.twitter.com/HAtzQU912x— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 27, 2019
Say goodnight, Gracie....Thought cloud: "This is WAY to fucking easy." https://t.co/FPHuBBP1tj— Tyler Rogoway (@Aviation_Intel) February 28, 2019
.@ErinBanco just asked Sekulow about the last part of this statement, and if ANY part of the statement was altered, and the Trump attorney wouldn’t weigh in, saying they are “only" responding to Trump Tower Moscow timeline allegations. https://t.co/y9dxQSrWLB— Asawin Suebsaeng (@swin24) February 27, 2019
Here's Mark Meadows, who just sidetracked the entire House Oversight Committee to assure him he's not racist, saying that "2012 is the time we are going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is" pic.twitter.com/90L1xnWf6v— Steve Morris (@stevemorris__) February 27, 2019
So I am apparently missing Mark Meadows having a meltdown about how he can’t be racist because he has black people in his family.... yo Senator Strom Thurmond had a black daughter & blocked the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for 24 hours in the US Senate.... really? #CohenHearing— Atima Omara (@atima_omara) February 27, 2019
House Republicans are putting a lot of mainstream media stories — WaPo, Vanity Fair, CNN — in the record. Many of the same outlets the president has dumped all over.— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) February 27, 2019
And, in the Be Careful What You Wish For, Dept.
”I did the same thing that you’re doing now for ten years—I protected Mr. Trump for ten years. ... That’s exactly what’s happening right now in this country, and it’s exactly what’s happening here in government.” https://t.co/UyPCoOxytq— Matt Pearce 🦅 (@mattdpearce) February 27, 2019
"Alexa, order all the popcorn." https://t.co/YDKoDlObQc— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) June 6, 2017
“This is not a good day for the president, clearly, to have his lawyer and intimate disclose so many things about him that don’t belong in the public domain,” Dershowitz told the veteran ABC anchor in a phone interview during the hearing’s recess.
Dershowitz went on to say that he’s worried Cohen’s testimony may have “weakened” attorney-client privilege.
“Whether [Cohen] wants to get a reduction in sentence or he wants to do the right thing, people can judge that for themselves,” the law professor mused.
Or what? Michael Cohen will be disbarred for this? He'll go to jail?
“I will be away from my wife and family for years,” Cohen said. “I pled guilty.”
Besides, attorney-client privilege doesn't cover protection of criminal acts, and Cohen plead guilty to committing criminal acts on behalf of Trump. Attorney-client privilege went "bye-bye" a long time ago, and this situation doesn't weaken the privilege for other lawyers one jot.
Dershowitz is a putz; but even a putz can realize how bad this day was for Trump, right, FoxNews?
“They haven’t refuted his basic allegations against the president. And you say they’re doing the best they can. It may be that they don’t have any evidence to refute,” [Chris] Wallace said. “To some degree, they can’t sit there and refute the checks to the degree that Cohen has said things, and it’s just basically his word. All they have is the president has denied that.”
He added, “They haven’t done anything to really say, basic allegations about the president, they’ve done a lot to shake his credibility. In terms of the allegations, they haven’t defended it. Is there anything out there that the White House could have given them to defend against the claims that Michael Cohen is making?”
Apparently they're all in Hanoi......
WOW -- @RepLawrence *goes in* on Mark Meadows for citing one black Trump administration official to argue Trump can't be racist.— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 27, 2019
"To prop up one member of our entire race of black people and say that that nullifies [racist statements] is insulting," she says. pic.twitter.com/6HcVYKx1NT
Absolutely KEY here is Trump directly involved in and approved plan “to hide the payments” on the books as a “retainer."— Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) February 27, 2019
Federal and State Tax Crimes.
State A.G. not bound by DOJ opinion on indicting a sitting president
Read these tax experts: https://t.co/f35IgLe6gD https://t.co/tLM6nrXX1q
Exhibit A:As a video ad maker, I have to say that this hearing has already produced enough content to make ads for at least through the 2020 election. And that’s regardless of which party were to hire someone like me to do them. It’s a narrative building sound byte orgy.— Ben (@BenHowe) February 27, 2019
Republicans like @RepArmstrongND are doing a great job proving that Cohen is a bad and unethical lawyer. What they can't explain is why the president they're defending decided to employ him as his personal fixer for more than a decade. pic.twitter.com/Q3ZBV5J51X— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 27, 2019
LOL. @CarolMillerWV (R) suggests Congress should hold more hearings about border security, instead of wasting time trying to get to the bottom of the president's alleged criminal behavior pic.twitter.com/ZMivSmMYE2— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 27, 2019
It's pretty lame how House Republicans keep tagging in Jordan and Meadows to ask questions for them. They aren't capable of doing it on their own?— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 27, 2019
Big - Cohen says Trump asked him to say that Trump wasn't knowledgable of Cohen's payments to Daniels. This was Feb 2018, when Trump was president for a year already. He says Trump called him to direct him to mislead the public.— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 27, 2019
Under questioning from @RepKatieHill, Cohen says that Trump called him to coordinate messaging about the hush payment to Stormy Daniels in February 2018 -- two months before Trump denied knowing anything about it. pic.twitter.com/QhXRs0LPxV— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 27, 2019
Key line from Cohen: "He doesn't give you questions, he doesn't give you orders, he speaks in code, and I understand the code because I've been around him for a decade." Others who try defending Trump end up confirming this when they say "that's just how he talks."— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 27, 2019
REP @HarleyRouda: In 2013, Trump testified that he didn't know Felix Sater. But Sater actually had an office in Trump Tower. Did Trump lie under oath?— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 27, 2019
COHEN: Yes. pic.twitter.com/QEbjfk13Ji
Mark Meadows yells at Cohen for a bit pic.twitter.com/S1VQwgdA97— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 27, 2019
Someone should really tell Mark Meadows that "spittle-flecked" isn't anything to aspire to— Jason (@longwall26) February 27, 2019
2. Have talked to several members and they've never seen an admin official sit behind a member of congress during a hearing! As @maggieNYT pointed out, Patton was brought into Trump world by Cohen. This is clearly intended as a reminder for Cohen, Meadows is Trump's top ally.— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) February 27, 2019
“I protected Mr. Trump for 10 years,” he continued, “and the fact that you pull up a news article that has no value to it, and you want to use that as the premise for discrediting me, that I’m not the person that people called at 3 o’clock in the morning, would make you inaccurate. In actuality it would make you a liar, which puts you in the same position that I am in.”
I can only warn people, the more people that follow Mr. Trump as I did, blindly, are going to suffer the same consequences that I’m suffering,” Cohen said.
Cohen said he’d lost everything he had worked for his entire life because he had chosen to serve Trump.
“I had a wonderful life,” he said. “I have a beautiful wife, I have two amazing children and I achieved financial success by the age of 39. I didn’t go to work for Mr. Trump because I had to, I went to work for him because I wanted to, and I’ve lost it all.”
“So if that in and of itself isn’t enough to dissuade somebody from acting in the callous manner that I did,” he added. I’m not sure that that person has any chance, very much like I’m in right now.”
“When Mr. Trump turned around early in the campaign and said, ‘I can shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and get away with it,’ I want to be very clear, he’s not joking,” Cohen said. “He’s telling you the truth — you don’t know him, I do. I’ve sat next to that man for 10 years, and I watched his back.”
“This destruction of our civility to one another is just — it’s out of control, and when he goes on Twitter and he starts bringing in my in-laws, my parents, my wife, what does he think is going to happen?” Cohen said. “He’s sending out the same message that he can do whatever he wants — this is his country. He’s becoming an autocrat.”
“Everybody’s job at the Trump Organization was to protect Mr. Trump,” he said. “Every day, most of us knew we were coming in and we were going to lie for him on something, and that became the norm, and that’s exactly what’s happening right now in this country. It’s exactly what’s happening here in government.”
Close your eyes, it's the narrative voice-over of "Goodfellas," right down to the accent.
Chris Christie on Michael Cohen testimony: "There hasn't been one Republican yet who's tried to defend the president on the substance. I think that's something that should be concerning to the White House." https://t.co/eXApIk4Hyq pic.twitter.com/DnTkHKNWkC— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 27, 2019
Jordan and Cohen get into it again after Jordan repeatedly cuts him off. Cohen notes that it's "interesting" how Republicans haven't asked him a single question about the president of the United States. 🤔 pic.twitter.com/cDKZE3Vzd6— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 27, 2019
[Rep. Paul] Gosar accused Cohen of violating attorney-client privilege with his testimony, and said he had no credibility.Everybody loves the guy who's laughing, right?
“You’re a pathological liar,” he said. “You don’t know truth from falsehood.”
“Sir, I’m sorry. Are you referring to me or the president?” Cohen asked, laughing. Gosar went ballistic.
“Hey, this is my time,” Gosar shouted as Cohen continued to laugh. “When I ask for a question, I’ll ask for an answer.”
“Sure,” said a grinning Cohen, as Gosar, like many of his Republican colleagues before him during the hearing, began rambling on about conspiracy theories.
Ninety-nine percent of members of Congress are unable to ask questions that elicit new information from witnesses.— Jack Shafer (@jackshafer) February 27, 2019
Never ask a question you don't know the answer to:
“You called Donald Trump a cheat in your opening testimony,” Green told Cohen. “What would you call yourself?”
“A fool,” Cohen replied.
Never testify for the witness in the way you ask the question, or appeal to the jury by telling them what they just heard is not what they just heard:
Green then yielded his time to [Rep. Jim] Jordan, who returned to the charges against Cohen.
“We just had a five-minute debate where Mr. Cohen disputes what the Southern District of New York found,” Jordan exclaimed. “The judge found that he was actually guilty of committing bank fraud.”
“His remorse is nonexistent!” Jordan continued. “He just debated a member of Congress, saying, I really didn’t do anything wrong with the false bank things that I’m guilty of and going to prison for.”
“Mr. Jordan!” Cohen interrupted. “That’s not what I said. And you know that’s not what I said. What I said, I pled guilty and I take responsibility for my actions.”
“Shame on you, Mr. Jordan,” the witness added. “That’s not what I said. What I said is I took responsibility and I take responsibility.”
“I will be away from my wife and family for years,” Cohen said. “I pled guilty.”
It takes a special level of skill to make Michael Cohen into a sympathetic character.
The New York Times and a third rate reporter named Maggie Haberman, known as a Crooked H flunkie who I don’t speak to and have nothing to do with, are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will “flip.” They use....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2018
....non-existent “sources” and a drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael, a fine person with a wonderful family. Michael is a businessman for his own account/lawyer who I have always liked & respected. Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if....— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2018
....it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2018
(Trump re-tweeted this tweet to move it to the top of his Twitter feed.)Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately). He had other clients also. He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud. He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time. Using Crooked’s lawyer!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2019
Fordham, where Trump attended for 2 years, confirms to NPR that someone on the Trump campaign reached out toward beginning of presidential runs, asking about grades being released (1/)— Scott Detrow (@scottdetrow) February 27, 2019
"We told the caller that Fordham is bound by federal law, and that we could not/would not reveal/share any records," says Fordham spokesman. (This is the school's policy whether or not you're running for president.) (2/)— Scott Detrow (@scottdetrow) February 27, 2019
After the call, school spokesman says, "Fordham received a follow-up letter from one of Mr. Trump's attorneys summarizing the call and reminding us that they would take action against the University if we did, in fact, release Mr. Trump's records."— Scott Detrow (@scottdetrow) February 27, 2019
Cohen shared with the House Oversight Committee copies of a letter he sent at Trump’s direction threatening civil and criminal actions against those schools if his grades or SAT scores were ever disclosed without permission.
As a personal aside, I've been told by my school that I can't even discuss a student's grades with that student via e-mail, because the recipient of my e-mail is not restricted to the student only (anybody can open their in-box, is the privacy presumption). So the letter from Cohen was completely superfluous; Trump was/is protected by federal law on that issue, and Fordham is not going to mess with it.
But, you know, the takeaway is Michael Cohen is a lie-ie lying liar! Just ask Jim Jordan:
Jordan later accused the ex-attorney of testifying because he didn’t get to work in the Trump White House.
“Here’s what I see,” the congressman said. “I see a guy who worked for ten years and trashing the guy he worked for for ten years. Didn’t get a job in the White House.”
Cohen, Jordan said, is “behaving just like everyone else who got fired or didn’t get the job they wanted — like Andy McCabe, like James Comey, same kind of selfish motivation after you don’t get the thing you want.”
Trump’s former “fixer” hit back, saying that “all I wanted is what I got.”
“To be personal attorney to the president,” Cohen said. “To enjoy the senior year of my son in high school and waiting for my daughter who is graduating from college to come back to New York. I got exactly what I want.”
You see! Cohen lied about crimes Trump committed or directed Cohen to commit so that Cohen could lie about those crimes later because Cohen is pissed he didn't get a sweet White House appointment to a White House that has had more turnovers than a pastry shop! It's all so clear!
Michael Cohen was one of many lawyers who represented me (unfortunately). He had other clients also. He was just disbarred by the State Supreme Court for lying & fraud. He did bad things unrelated to Trump. He is lying in order to reduce his prison time. Using Crooked’s lawyer!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 27, 2019
BTW: Cohen has every English-speaking reporter in the world repeating the words "Trump is a racist. Trump is a conman. Trump is a cheat." Mostly because Cohen said them first. You gotta admire a guy who knows how to tell his story.
Clown. pic.twitter.com/3Q35cX6HQ9— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) February 27, 2019
Speaker, I want to get the truth too. While it is important 2 create context around the testimony of liars like Michael Cohen, it was NOT my intent to threaten, as some believe I did. I’m deleting the tweet & I should have chosen words that better showed my intent. I’m sorry. https://t.co/Rdbw3sTQJD— Matt Gaetz (@mattgaetz) February 27, 2019
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
"Sanders’s remedy for what ails the media — uncritical, stenographic coverage of his agenda — betrays a misunderstanding of the role of a free press." https://t.co/fbbmwh9aGv— Ted Nesi (@TedNesi) February 26, 2019
About what constitutes "stenographic coverage"? Because I think that's part of the problem:
Wow. To make it absolutely clear - real journalists do NOT get paid by sources. https://t.co/H4vmg0BPPf— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) February 26, 2019
That, And I'm too lazy to write anything....
On top of everything else, Kraft, Epstein, Manafort, Derschowitz & of course Trump are object lessons in why we need the humanities—esp. aesthetics. Read a poem or two & it becomes hard to see Vegas, Miami clubs & the services of paid teen sexworkers as glamorous & not desperate.— Virginia Heffernan (@page88) February 26, 2019
Will journalists take any responsibility for this? Or will they just blame "the people"?Wow. To make it absolutely clear - real journalists do NOT get paid by sources. https://t.co/H4vmg0BPPf— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) February 26, 2019
No wonder Trump loves summits.A grand welcome: Uniformed soldiers lined a red carpet at the foot of the stairs from Air Force One as President Trump arrived in Vietnam https://t.co/3VfQma87Xm pic.twitter.com/lETWLQCaWC— CNN International (@cnni) February 26, 2019
That's because no one else has ever been BFF's like Trump and Kim.In nearly 10 years covering the @WhiteHouse, having been on Presidential trips to more than 100 countries, I have never seen the White House Press Corps kicked out of our unilateral press/broadcast center by request of a foreign leader.— John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) February 26, 2019
Questions that answer themselves.Did anyone from the Whitr House fight to keep US reporters in? https://t.co/yOdpSmQ2fX— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) February 26, 2019
Why We Can't Have Nice Things, Dept. Did it really take Amtrak 48 hours to figure out the train had "reverse"? Can we be assured Amtrak is NEVER in charge of high-speed rail?Update: the LA-bound Amtrak train that had been stranded in Oregon since *Sunday night* is now headed back to Seattle https://t.co/hKts9nYM7o— Elizabeth Landers (@ElizLanders) February 26, 2019
And, of course: Pay No Attention to That Liar talking to Congress! Pay Attention to Our Liar In The White House!
White House statement regarding Micheal Cohen’s testimony to Congress this week: pic.twitter.com/i1QfSPkO2p— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) February 26, 2019
Monday, February 25, 2019
I was listening to BBC World Service this afternoon, when the reader announced the next story by referencing the return of infectious diseases b because of the"false" (his word) idea that vaccines are dangerous. "That is not true, he insisted, and mentioned one other anti-vaxx idea, again stating flatly it was a lie.This is a complete fabrication but you wouldn’t know it from reading this ABC News tweet, which spreads Trump’s lie uncritically https://t.co/i6037eDxTg— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 26, 2019
And I marvelled that I'd never heard a U.S. reporter speak so plainly or clearly about something so blatantly false. And I wondered if the American experiment would fail, if they started doing so.
Doesn't seem to have hurt the Brits.
The "Middle Ages" are the time, in popular imagination, when the Church dominated European life. Part of the bad rap on "the Church" stems directly from the Reformation, more directly from the Reformed movement than from the Lutheran side of the Reformation. But a great deal of the image of the "Dark Ages" comes from the Enlightenment, and yet stems from the same root as the disparagement of the Roman church by the reformers. Both disparagements continue to this day, but that's the way history works, isn't it?
I've told the story before, about the lawyer who came to the car wreck I was a party to, and told me I couldn't have the tow truck driver move my car until the police arrived. She (the lawyer) was much younger than me, so I'm confident in saying I left the practice of law before she entered law school (or probably high school, for that matter). I was also old enough to remember when car insurance went from adjudging liability to "no fault," and when police officers went from detailed analysis and records of an accident as if it were a CSI crime scene, to simply getting names and proof of insurance and giving everyone an accident report number to give to their respective insurance agents. I knew the police wanted the cars out of the traffic. They weren't going to be drawing diagrams of the collision, much less dusting the scene for air bag powder residue. She, however, working in an area of law far outside her skill set (who keeps a personal injury lawyer on speed dial?), knew not what she'd learned in law school, but what "everybody knows." She knew history, but not very well.
That is an example of how we all "know" history; especially when we don't. Let's apply that to medieval torture devices, which we are all sure are both historically accurate, and reflective of an absolutely historical indifference to human suffering once upon a time (yes, I'm looking at you, Stephen Pinker!):
And what strikes us most in considering the mediaeval tortures, is not so much their diabolical barbarity, which it is indeed impossible to exaggerate, as the extraordinary variety, and what may have be termed the artistic skill, they displayed. They represent a condition of thought in which men had pondered long and carefully on all the forms of suffering, had compared and combined different kinds of torture, till they had become the most consummate masters of their art, had expended on the subject all the resources of the utmost ingenuity, and had pursued it with the ardour of a passion.Only one problem with that assessment, and it's a doozy:
However, when one takes a close look at books like these, it soon becomes obvious that very little of the tortures they describe took place in the Middle Ages. Instead, they recount various events from the 17th to 19th centuries, with perhaps a few anecdotes from previous eras (and in some recent books, noting the use of modern tactics like waterboarding). The authors will mention various torture devices, and usually add in some statement that while we first hear about it in the 17th century, it was ‘undoubtedly’ or ‘would have been’ also seen in medieval times.
The "Pear of Anguish, for example, doesn't appear until the 17th century, and seems actually to have been an early form of a speculum. It was too weak in design or construction to inflict unendurable pain, but instead designed as a medical aid. The infamous "Iron Maiden" doesn't appear in Europe until the 18th century, where the mention of it is what we could reliably call today "fake news." It was invented out of whole cloth, in other words, during the "Enlightenment," with pretty much the purpose of proving how superior to "them" "we" are today. Or they were, since we are a different set of people 3 centuries later; or maybe not so different, after all. As Eric Weiskott sensibly puts it:
Take it from a professor of medieval literature: calling things you don’t like ‘medieval’ is inaccurate and unhelpful. It’s inaccurate, because we don’t live in the Middle Ages. The things that most anger, disgust, or offend us are relatively new in the grand scheme of history. And it’s unhelpful, because the ‘medieval’ label reinforces our overconfidence in ourselves and our modernity. That attitude goes all the way back to the Enlightenment in the 18th century. Not coincidentally, the Enlightenment is the movement that cemented the idea of the Middle Ages as a distinctive—and distinctly regrettable—period of European history, spanning roughly the 5th to the 15th centuries.I'm not trying to denigrate the Enlightenment (pace, Pinker!) to say it dabbled in mythology as great as any urged against medieval Europe, but to point out humans are humans, and one of our strongest and most misguided efforts is to denigrate some group, in history or ethnicity, in order to make ourselves feel better, if not superior. And this presents me with a thesis for another day, but one I've been mulling over for some time, just looking for the right context to present it in. That context could be this:
If things seem especially precarious lately in Europe and the Anglosphere, it’s because our high opinion of ourselves, which we inherit from the Enlightenment, has been bumping up against reality, in ever more painfully obvious ways. No wonder. Perfect confidence in the legacy of Enlightenment achievements is impossible to reconcile with their worst consequences: colonialism, racism, economic domination, climate catastrophe. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating a return to the Middle Ages. But an ideology of inevitable progress is always going to make enemies for itself wherever ‘progress’ is experienced, instead, as violence.
Or where "progress" doesn't seem to be solving all our problems for us. The modern spiritual dilemma seems to be the "problem of suffering," a "problem" itself that comes from 18th century Europe (and suffuses 19th century Europe, in Romantic anguish that moves to post-modern angst). It was Leibniz, after all, who gave us the concept of "theodicy," the question of God's justice, the issue upon which Voltaire broke after the earthquake in Lisbon (but oddly enough, humanity's predilections to be violent and, well, overall "human," did not cause Swift to renounce his priestly vocation. Gulliver's Travels, by the end, makes Candide look like a children's fable. Interesting, that.) Today we despair because God will not save us from ourselves, and nothing else, not politics or ideology or elected officials or Academy Awards, will either. (Spike Lee is entitled to his opinions and reactions to an industry he works in, but honestly the brouhaha over the awards for the last several years, culminating in the show last night and who won and who lost, is downright comical. First world problems, indeed.) I'm intrigued by this modern idea that avoiding suffering is the raison d'etre of human existence and the summa of the "good life." It's always "my" suffering that is most important, for one thing; and then how we define suffering (chronic pain; childhood trauma; inconvenience?), that are not subject to much examination. The suffering is the thing! And we will not have it! O, why must we suffer so?
For the same reason MPAAS voters won't vote the way we want them to?
I'm making light of a serious topic now, and at some point I'll reflect more seriously on this question of suffering. But for now, I'd wish that we looked a little more plainly at ourselves, and consider that the mirror we need to be looking into, is the one that reflects us back at ourselves:
In the end, it is both more accurate and more rhetorically effective to admit that the bad things around us belong to the same history as the good things. Mass incarceration, the scientific method, terrorism, the automobile, fascism: these are irreducibly modern responses to modern conditions. No person, event, or movement can take us back to the Middle Ages, because history only points in one direction. We can learn much from the violence of the past, but not by wishing away the violence of the present.We have met the enemy, and he is us. No wonder we want to run away.
Adding: apparently Trump had a lot of fun talking to the governors."My daughter's created millions of jobs," Pres. Trump says while speaking to a gathering of governors. "I don't know if anyone knows that, but she's created millions of jobs." https://t.co/NkJuIoh4fP pic.twitter.com/EkRBthTTEL— ABC News (@ABC) February 25, 2019
Trump falsely told governors China doesn't have a drug problem. He compared China's death penalty to this imaginary US court system:— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) February 25, 2019
"They don’t have trials that last 19 years. At the end of it the judge dies, everybody dies, the only one living is the one that did the damage."
Our great photographer Jim Young captured this photo of the POTUS this morning talking to the governors pic.twitter.com/FSZRgLbIQQ— Steve Holland (@steveholland1) February 25, 2019
Be nice if Spike Lee could read his notes, or better yet not have to use notes at all, when doing his racist hit on your President, who has done more for African Americans (Criminal Justice Reform, Lowest Unemployment numbers in History, Tax Cuts,etc.) than almost any other Pres!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 25, 2019
The word today is “irony.” The date, the 24th. The month, February, which also happens to be the shortest month of the year, which also happens to be Black History Month. The year, 2019. The year, 1619. History. Her story. 1619. 2019. 400 years.
Four hundred years, our ancestors were stolen from Mother Africa and bought to Jamestown, Virginia, enslaved. Our ancestors worked the land from can’t see in the morning to can’t see at night.
My grandmother … who lived to be 100 years young, who was a Spelman College graduate even though her mother was a slave. My grandmother, who saved 50 years of social security checks to put her first grandchild — she called me Spikie-poo — she put me through Morehouse College and NYU grad film. NYU!
Before the world tonight, I give praise to our ancestors who have built this country into what it is today along with the genocide of its native people. We all connect with our ancestors. We will have love and wisdom regained, we will regain our humanity. It will be a powerful moment. The 2020 presidential election is around the corner. Let’s all mobilize. Let’s all be on the right side of history. Make the moral choice between love versus hate. Let’s do the right thing! You know I had to get that in there.
The closest he got to even mentioning Trump was to mention the 2020 election. He asked that we "Make the moral choice between love versus hate."
No wonder Trump was upset. The word that day really was "irony."
Sunday, February 24, 2019
the republican party, having a normal sunday pic.twitter.com/9FuFbPuNh9— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) February 24, 2019
Republican President: Stalinism is the future!— David Rothschild (@DavMicRot) February 25, 2019
Republican Senator: Hold my beer, we should listen more to the wise words of fascist dictators.
Another Republican Senator: It has been way too long since we overthrew a Latin American leader and installed our own government. pic.twitter.com/i4Kbj0RwKN
Interesting to consider that most of America will have no idea this went on today. And if they did...?When you consider the number of Democratic Socialists who were jailed and murdered for opposing Mussolini and Hitler, the true obscenity of this tweet becomes glaring. https://t.co/pHl4nRx4d6— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) February 24, 2019
(I especially like the conceit that the last Stalinist government on earth, whose only proclaimed goal is to subdue the entire Korean peninsula, has just been waiting for a summit with Trump to instead challenge China for economic hegemony.)
Saturday, February 23, 2019
"Double secret probation." Remember that? Everybody does. What you don't remember is that Dean Wormer invokes it based on "a little known codicil" in the constitution of Faber College, a codicil allowing the Dean to restore order in times of emergency.
Too bad he didn't think to just build a wall around Delta house, huh?
(By the way, teaching is a way of paying the rent until I finish my novel. Too.)
Today is Defender of the Fatherland Day (formerly Red Army Day) in Russia. Some Russians are marking it with good humor, congratulating us with this defender of the fatherland. pic.twitter.com/QmK1bS1xol— Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) February 23, 2019
I've no idea if this is truly Russian, but my stats tell me I get a lot of visits from Mother Russia. (Followed closely by France, but I've got nothing for them.) (I'll have to depend on NTodd to translate the Russian; if it isn't gibberish.)
I might as well add this, as Trump is clearly their man on our side.
Is this a great country or what?Trump administration weighs softening demands ahead of the second North Korea summit https://t.co/32peOLMxwf pic.twitter.com/8K7uNMdCyI— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 23, 2019
Friday, February 22, 2019
don't mean that much now?Jussie Smollett claims he has an untreated drug problem https://t.co/anp6RDVXFx— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) February 22, 2019
I don't think this excuses what he did (if he did it; we're still in the land of allegations, though this sounds like the prelude to a confession), but I never condemned him. Mostly, I felt sorry for him. Throwing the first stone, and all that. But I'm not keen on prisons or punishment. Neither seems all that much aligned with justice. IMHO, anyway.
Sometimes the system saves us from ourselves because the people trying to screw it over are THAT incompetent.BREAKING: More than a third of the federal 💰@realDonaldTrump wants to redirect to build a #BorderWall is not available. It’s been spent. Congress—including Dems—would have to approve making new 💰 available. That’s not happening. Time for a Plan B. pic.twitter.com/aSZ1LksdPY— John M. Donnelly (@johnmdonnelly) February 22, 2019
Small comfort; but you take it where you can get it.
1. A few days ago, I sat down with Hoda Muthana,m in Syria. She had traveled from Alabama to Syria on a US passport but she was worried that her US citizenship might be called into question. That’s exactly what has happened. See statement from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: pic.twitter.com/MlbWxh1k6f— Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi) February 20, 2019
2. Muthana, now 24, has already been issued two US passports: Once when she was a child and the second one in 2014, when she used it to travel overseas to join ISIS. So how can Pompeo say that she’s not a citizen? The technicality is that she is the daughter of a Yemeni diplomat.— Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi) February 20, 2019
3. According to the 14th amendment, people born in the US - as Muthana was - are citizens of the US and “subject to the jurisdiction thereof.” What does that mean if you’re the daughter of a Yemeni diplomat? Well a diplomat is subject to the jurisdiction of his or her own country pic.twitter.com/CaQXgtWBmH— Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi) February 20, 2019
4. But I just got off the phone with Muthana’s family attorney and this rule doesn’t apply to her because her father was discharged from his UN post 1 month before she was born. At the time of her birth, Muthana’s father was no longer a diplomat hence the exclusion is not valid— Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi) February 20, 2019
5. When Muthana first received her US passport when she was a child, her father was asked to produce proof that he had been discharged from his diplomatic post. Authorities reviewed her case, says her family lawyer, and handed her not just her first passport but also her second.— Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi) February 20, 2019
6. So why is the US *now* saying that she isn’t a citizen? This being the same girl that applied for a renewal of her passport in 2014, received the said passport, and successfully used it to fly from Birmingham to Istanbul? Those trying to help her say that this a “legal dodge.”— Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi) February 20, 2019
7. Sources tell us that the US may not have enough to successfully charge her. This is an easy way to offload her. According to data tracked by the Times, there are at least 13 Americans tied to ISIS languishing detention camps in Syria. Almost all are women/l and children— Rukmini Callimachi (@rcallimachi) February 20, 2019
This story has kind of slipped beneath the headlines, and yet I find it profoundly disturbing, especially coming under an Administration headed by a man who spent years challenging the birthright citizenship of the 44th President of the United States. Apparently the State Department was convinced that Hoda Muthana was a U.S. citizen at least twice; but now they have decided she is not worthy to re-enter the U.S., despite being a citizen.
It has probably slipped away because "Muslim" and "ISIS" and even "radical Islam." I have no sympathy for Muthana, and if she faces criminal charges she should be returned to the U.S. to face them (what, she's more dangerous than "El Chapo"? He's the former head of one of the largest, most violent drug rings in the world. She married a mensch in ISIS.). Is her punishment to be denied her birthright? That's a very slippery slope, especially coming from a President who wonders aloud why he can't prosecute a comedy show and declares the press the "enemy of the people." Is the problem for the rest of us simply that Muthana is unsympathetic?
I know this will play out in the courts, but I'm growing tired of expecting the courts to save us from men who have no respect for the rule of law.
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
The New York Times reporting is false. They are a true ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2019
Officials have touted the new wall as harder to get over, under and through. When finished, it will cover 20 miles, replacing old post and rail barriers that were meant to stop vehicles but have been useless against people trying to cross on foot.
I understand Slate is not Lawfare or Scotusblog, but: really?
What Trump did not predict—and probably could not, given his tenuous grasp on the legal limitations of executive authority—is that Monday’s lawsuit is, at bottom, extremely conservative. The suit does not appeal to the justices’ empathy for vulnerable immigrants or question whether Trump’s racist motives might undermine the declaration’s legality. Instead, it relies upon ancient principles of separation of powers to make a very strong case that Trump has short-circuited the Constitution. It is not a lawsuit about equality, or dignity, but about the nuts and bolts that undergird the constitutional lawmaking process. It is wonky, and formal, terse, and unromantic. And if the Supreme Court’s conservatives have any consistency, Monday’s lawsuit should persuade them to block Trump’s wall.
Legal pleadings are not internet postings. There are rules of procedure they must follow, and a concept called "cause of action" which they must fit their facts into. You can't sue the government because Trump said something outrageous or stupid, any more than you can "Lock her up!" because a candidate inspired that chant at a rally. If Trump's declaration of a national emergency can be overturned in a court of law, it won't be because 5 our of 9 Justices on the Supreme Court share the outrage of 9 out of 10 political commentators on the subject. The law simply doesn't work that way.
So what clever thing did the 16 states do? They actually relied on the Constitution, rather than Twitter. Huh.
The 16 plaintiff states center their 57-page complaint around a basic argument: that the president has violated the cardinal principle of separation of powers by trammeling Congress’ will to achieve his policy preferences. Trump, the lawsuit alleges, “has used the pretext of a manufactured ‘crisis’ of unlawful immigration to declare a national emergency and redirect federal dollars appropriated for drug interdiction, military construction, and law enforcement initiatives toward building a wall on the United States-Mexico border.” There is “no objective basis” for this declaration, as Trump himself has essentially admitted. Further, “[t]he federal government’s own data prove there is no national emergency at the southern border that warrants construction of a wall,” and unauthorized entries are “near 45-year lows.”The point is, you see, that litigants (!) have gotten smart after two years of Trump:
But the states aren’t simply upset because they would have preferred that the money be used for military construction and law enforcement. They are upset because, they allege, the money has been taken from these projects and from their citizens to be used illegally. (emphasis in original)
Litigants have learned well, after two long years of arguing over the travel ban, that the five conservatives have little to no interest in probing what lies in the president’s heart. They simply don’t care about what might or might not be a pretext, or whether tweets should count. They want clinical analysis of formal constitutional authority and presidential power.
I know Dahlia Lithwick is a lawyer; I assume Mark Joseph Stern is, too. But lordy, this is a sad excuse for analysis even by non-lawyers. Litigants (not lawyers? are litigants writing their own pleadings now?) have learned to argue the law, not make political arguments? Who knew that would work in a court of law? Yes, I know judges used Trump's tweets as the factual basis of their legal reasoning in ruling against this Administration, and the Supreme Court pointedly refused to do that in upholding the final version of the Muslim travel ban. But the Supreme Court is ALWAYS going to prefer law over incident; that's what they do! How they do it may be a subject of controversy (I still despise the reasoning and the outcome of the Hobby Lobby decision; I know how critics of Roe v. Wade feel on that subject.), but that, as the GEICO ads say, is what they do. I'm glad Lithwick and Stern are optimistic about this suit; but do they have to dumb down the legal arguments to the point they are barely arguments anymore?
Besides, I think this is a much better analysis of the legal issues:
Here is a broader lesson. It is important to distinguish between two questions. The first is whether a president has undertaken an action that is, in some technical sense, unlawful. The second is whether a president has undertaken an action that is, in some fundamental sense, illegitimate in a democratic society.
The answer to the first question is probably yes -- but it’s a mistake to be sure about that. The answer to the second question is certainly yes -- and it’s a mistake to be unsure about that.
Now: is that illegitimacy something the courts will decide voids the President's declaration of an emergency, and all actions taken pursuant to that declaration? Quite honestly: it would be a mistake to be sure about that. Of course, the decision that an action is unlawful is always a technical issue; but my fundamental issue is always your technical issue; so that argument, even that use of the term, doesn't advance our understanding very much. Better to just say we live in hope that the courts will save us from ourselves; because as a government, that's pretty much the only hope we have left.
Ok, this complicates things quite a bit. Was Pompeo’s announcement that Muthana is not a US citizen based on solid legal assessments or was it due to political interference by the president? https://t.co/mXdl98hrra— Nahal Toosi (@nahaltoosi) February 20, 2019
“The Trump administration continues its attempts to wrongfully strip citizens of their citizenship,” Shibly told AL.com. “Hoda Muthana had a valid US passport and is a citizen. She was born in Hackensack, NJ in October 1994, months after her father stopped being a diplomat.”
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, a person born in the U.S. to a foreign diplomatic officer is not subject to U.S. law and is not automatically considered a U.S. citizen at birth.
The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial. The Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them........— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2019
It happens again and again that, when there are many possible descriptions of a physical situation—all making equivalent predictions, yet all wildly different in premise—one will turn out to be preferable, because it extends to an underlying reality, seeming to account for more of the universe at once. And yet this new description might, in turn, have multiple formulations—and one of those alternatives may apply even more broadly. It’s as though physicists are playing a modified telephone game in which, with each whisper, the message is translated into a different language. The languages describe different scales or domains of the same reality but aren’t always related etymologically. In this modified game, the objective isn’t—or isn’t only—to seek a bedrock equation governing reality’s smallest bits. The existence of this branching, interconnected web of mathematical languages, each with its own associated picture of the world, is what needs to be understood.
Now, is that because Wittgenstein helps us understand reality as it is? Or is that because we understand reality as it is through the ideas, now, of Wittgenstein? Did he, in other words, discover something true about reality? Or do we interpret reality because of the influence of his ideas on our discourse? And even if one answer "extends to a deeper or more general description of reality," does that mean that answer is right? When I studied the New Testament under a member of the Jesus Seminar (ask your grandpa, punk!), he taught us the probabilities (not mathematical!) of statements in the Gospels being the authentic words of Jesus of Nazareth, and how the Seminar decided which words were invented, which were distorted, and which were closest to the original speaker. And it was all, of course, a matter of interpretation and argument. Where is the hard reality? Somewhere in between, just as the nature of God and God's revelation is known, not in the words of Scripture, but in the interpretations of Scripture, and the interpretations of those interpretations, and the interpretations of the interpretations of the interpretations. It's turtles all the way down!, although in this case the description applies to the Midrash of the Hebrew Scriptures, not to the failure of "religion" to be a "hard science."
It’s for this reason that Paul Dirac, a British pioneer of quantum theory, stressed the importance of reformulating existing theories: it’s by finding new ways of describing known phenomena that you can escape the trap of provisional or limited belief. This was the trick that led Dirac to predict antimatter, in 1928. “It is not always so that theories which are equivalent are equally good,” he said, five decades later, “because one of them may be more suitable than the other for future developments.”
Or, as the E&R church put it long ago:
Grant that thy Church may be delivered from traditions which have lost their life, from usage which has lost its spirit, from institutions which no longer give life and power to their generation; that the Church may ever shine as a light in the world and be as a city set on a hill.
HEAR OUR PRAYER, O LORD.
Which sentiment is the illegitimate rewriting of rules to suit changed circumstances, and which is the legitimate alteration of understanding to fit new insights and discoveries? This, for example, is something I've always understood about philosophy and theology; that is, that you can't discard the ideas you don't like and simply replace them with those that you do, or ignore new ideas because they challenge your preferred notions:
Take general relativity. Physicists know that Einstein’s theory is incomplete. Yet it is a spectacular artifice, with a spare, taut mathematical structure. Fiddle with the equations even a little and you lose all of its beauty and simplicity. It turns out that, if you want to discover a deeper way of explaining the universe, you can’t take the equations of the existing description and subtly deform them. Instead, you must make a jump to a totally different, equally perfect mathematical structure. What’s the point, theorists wonder, of the perfection found at every level, if it’s bound to be superseded?That last, of course, is the question of philosophers and theologians for millennia. In theology it's the source of humility (one; theology itself should be founded on the humility of the servant, but that's a theological issue, too). And this is where it really seems religious (although this thinking may simply be founded in Aristotle's conviction that all things have a telos; but then were does that telos come from?):
It seems inconceivable that this intricate web of perfect mathematical descriptions is random or happenstance. This mystery must have an explanation. But what might such an explanation look like? One common conception of physics is that its laws are like a machine that humans are building in order to predict what will happen in the future. The “theory of everything” is like the ultimate prediction machine—a single equation from which everything follows. But this outlook ignores the existence of the many different machines, built in all manner of ingenious ways, that give us equivalent predictions.Oddly, this language sounds extremely religious to me, too; but maybe that's because I know the work of the Christian mystics, and am inclined to hear echoes of the Cloud of Unknowing (which I understand not as beyond knowledge, but as actually shedding knowledge in order to...well, know):
So is the question "God"? Or "42"? The question to which the universe is the answer is not really a religious question, since religion is not really concerned with "why" on that scale, or more accurately, in that language game. And which language game is physics going to play now? Because this is all getting very Godelian, too.....
Arkani-Hamed now sees the ultimate goal of physics as figuring out the mathematical question from which all the answers flow. “The ascension to the tenth level of intellectual heaven,” he told me, “would be if we find the question to which the universe is the answer, and the nature of that question in and of itself explains why it was possible to describe it in so many different ways.” It’s as though physics has been turned inside out. It now appears that the answers already surround us. It’s the question we don’t know.
Trump offers a flabbergasting lie, claims "the EU wouldn't even meet with Obama, but they are meeting with us." pic.twitter.com/h0r8pflK0J— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 20, 2019
They must have just stumbled across each other in a pub then or something. What a coincidence. 🙄 pic.twitter.com/13smqHOztJ— wskrz 🇨🇦🇳🇱 (@wskrz) February 20, 2019
Fact Checker: "Really? REALLY? Are you telling me I now have to compile a list of every time Obama 'met with the EU?'"— End of Rant (@ArtGow) February 20, 2019
Fact Checker: (head explodes)
I think the very nature of belief in God that is common to the monotheistic religions lends itself to that kind of serious consideration in a way that atheism doesn't naturally hold. But first there is the choice to believe that reality is real and consequential.This identifies quite nicely a critical turn in my own thinking. For anything to be of any consequence, one must first believe that reality is real and consequential. If human life is a mere ephemera, a flash of light in the eternal darkness, a speck of dust in the endless void of space, a tick of the watch in measureless eternity, then reality itself is neither real nor consequential, but merely and false perception. If, however, reality is real and consequential, then the question holds true for all of us: "How should we then live?"
That can be a philosophical question, or it can be a religious one; it can be an ethical inquiry, or a moral one. The point is it can be asked, and even if the answer is a Buddhist claim of illusion (I won't distort Buddhism or demean it by assuming to know its tenets when I don't), even that claim assumes reality is real and consequential. We start there, or we cannot move on.
So we set aside Descartes cogito. No real effort; but no small feat, either. That cogito is considered the foundation of modern philosophy, which is to say "modern" (v. ancient) thinking, but it is a principle that extends back to Plato. Descartes really only sheared away (or allowed the shearing away) of the religious trappings Plato had acquired since the 4th century; he didn't really plant a flag on a fundamentally new firmament. To abandon the cogito is not to move against, or even away from, Plato fundamentally; but it is to move away from that subjective insistence that human thought is all we know, and all we can know.
Or at least we now have grounds for doing so. Hans Kung is not exploring a new continent, either. He is largely bringing Catholic teachings into the 21st (late 20th, actually) century. But everything old is new again, and to understand reality is real and consequential is to understand that the answer to the question "How should we then live?" can have real importance.
Do we pursue fame? Money? Absolute authority on the internet? ("SOMEBODY ON THE INTERNET IS WRONG!") The obliteration of all that outrages us about sharing this planet with other people (the apparent raison d'etre of most internet discussions)? Do we chase God and pursue salvation and live our lives as strictly within bounds of "morality" as we possibly can, hoping to find favor in the hereafter?
Or are we our brother's keeper? Should we be first of all? Or last and least of all? How should we then live?
To quote myself from another time and place:
Our hope is not in the victory, but in the defeat; our hope is not in the one so powerful he will save us all, but in the one so powerless he is willing to die for us all. Our hope is not in overcoming, our hope is in being found worthy because of our willingness to place service above everything else we know, to make service the reason for everything we do. Our hope is in the reversal of what we expect. If our hope was only in our gain, we would reach a point where all we could expect was to hold tenaciously to what we had, to keep it "ours" for as long as we could, to protect it against all other claimants and cry "no fair!" to the driver when someone else claimed to right to ride shotgun. We have to restore our claim to priority over and over and over again, and it takes all our energy, and we can never be certain we’ll prevail again. That condition is permanent.
But also permanent is the condition of others; also permanent is that we can always be of service to others. And there is no competition there, no risk of loss, no concern that we will lose our place of privilege. There is no privilege in service, except that we get to model Christ, and we get to serve the Christ, and by service we become more like Christ. We, too, will drink the cup and undergo the baptism of our Lord and Savior. But that is because we will not be in charge of others, but in service to others. There is no privilege in service, except that in service, we do as God did. In service, we model the Creator of the Universe. And our energy is used in help, not holding on; in giving, not gain. It is the paradox of the powerless, that, letting go of power, we have all the power we will ever need.
This is the word of God the letter to the Hebrews is talking about; the word of God that is alive and active, that cuts more keenly than any two-edged sword, that separates soul and spirit, joint and marrow, that discriminates among the purposes and the thoughts of the heart. It is the bottom line, we say, that matters; it is the outcome, not the intent, sometimes not even the action. Because at the bottom, is where everything happens to everybody. At the bottom, among the servants, is where we find God. Because at the bottom, God serves everyone, and at the bottom, is where we serve and honor God. It is the reverse of what the world teaches, of those who supposedly rule over foreigners.
Our hope is in reversal. Our hope is in the fact that everything we know is wrong. Our hope is in the power of powerlessness. Our hope is not in power. God is all powerful because God is powerless. No, not powerless, but acts without power. God reverses everything we know. God tells us to race, not for the top, but for the bottom. The top is ephemeral, it is false; it is a place only in legend and song. The bottom is where we all are, and where we never rise from. When you are #1, the only way to go is down. Go down, then, because #1 is not the first, but the last; not the ruler, but the servant. Amen.