Monday, August 31, 2020

Closing Thoughts

I just really enjoyed these bits today:

And what does Trump have to say about violence?

Hoax! Fraud!


I guess this is, too:

I guess they're bussing voters into the bases?

More History Lessons

So, Dr. King was on to something?


Or if you want to hear Biden say it:

Well, you know, he's out of the basement now.  "Be careful what you wish for," and all that.

Reality slaps Trump in the face on an hourly basis.  Trump insists reality never laid a glove on him.

So it goes.

Any Day Now....

...the story will have "shifted" again (the sexual assault claim is completely bogus.  On a sidewalk?  While his kids waited in the car?) to the women being white women, because To Kill a Mockingbird was practically a documentary.

The truth is Blake knew the women, and was trying to break up an argument between them.  Police wanted to arrest him for outstanding warrants (which have since been dropped; but that was why he was handcuffed to a hospital bed).  I don't know why he went back to the car, or why the police shot him.

I just know they had no reason to.  Except, you know, black men are dangerous.  And sex-crazed, apparently.  Especially about white women.

This is the part of the movie where I came in.  Why it keeps playing over and over, that's the question....

Po-TAY-to, Po-TAH-to

Let's call the whole thing off:

A new Centers for Disease Control report shows 94% of people who died from COVID-19 in the U.S. had contributing health conditions.

Yes, but: Australian epidemiologist Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz noted in a blog post on Monday that the CDC estimates COVID-19 was the underlying cause of 95% of all deaths related to the virus. Only in 5% of deaths has it been listed as a contributing cause.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Sam Baker: This report doesn't mean that COVID isn't as bad as we thought. It's clear from the CDC's statistics on excess deaths that more people are dying than usual, because of COVID. The fact that common pre-existing medical conditions often coincide with deadly coronavirus infections is part of what makes it scary — not a reason to write it off.

Of note: Twitter removed a post earlier Sunday retweeted by President Trump for violating its rules with a false interpretation of the CDC's novel coronavirus data.

The post incorrectly claimed the CDC had "quietly" updated its data "to admit that only 6%" of those listed in the U.S. coronavirus death toll "actually died from COVID" and that "the other 94% had 2-3 other serious illnesses," CNN notes.

The post by a supporter of a baseless conspiracy theory has since been deleted.

Reality check: While the cause of death listed as solely from the coronavirus occurred in 6% of cases in the U.S. from Feb. 1 to Aug. 22, this doesn't mean that the virus was not a contributing factor or, indeed, the leading cause in the other 94%. The U.S. virus death toll would be much lower if this were the case.
It's well established that people with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

"People can live with obesity, diabetes or heart disease for years but then get infected with COVID-19 and die quickly," CNN points out.

For the record: For deaths with conditions or causes as well as COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death, according to the CDC.

The next line from the White House:  "See?  They would have died anyway!"

Numbers Games

A million here, a million there...pretty soon you're talking about real people.  And speaking of "real people":

Money talks.

In the words of Tonto:  "What you mean 'we,' white man?" (That joke perfectly encapsulates the anxiety of American history.  IMHO, anyway.  And raises a serious question:  who is "we" in that title?  I learned in seminary (and it was a hard lesson) that "we" seldom means "us."  If I said any more than that here, I'd have to write a dissertation.  Or at least a couple of sermons.)

Trump Stopped Reading after "Trump People"....

Right, Kayleigh?  I mean, the President's too busy reading to, you know, read.

"Efforting Outreach"?

Translated into English that phrase means "No, we're not even trying, but I'm not gonna go Kellyanne on you and tell the truth."

If she was from Texas, Kayleigh would have said: "We're fixin' to get around to it." Means the same thing.

September is Tomorrow, Right?

Just making sure my calendar isn't wrong.

So Are We A Government Of Men?

Or of laws?

I Really, Truly, Don't Understand

Why this impromptu speech is not being played, over and over and over again, on every media outlet in the country.

Remove the visuals, if you need to; remove the background music; just listen to the words.  It this doesn't shame you, if this doesn't wake you, if this doesn't make you feel a need to see justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a living stream, then I don't know what to make of you.

This man is takin' us to church, and puttin' us before Jesus.  We should all be on our knees, asking forgiveness and what we can do for one another; and especially for anyone we consider the "other."

If this can't get you started thinking about that, I don't know what will.

This Guy Really Needs to Visit the South

There we call it "Football season."

The world divides into people very upset by this kind of thing, and the rest of us who have more important things to worry about.


Not too many signs its working.

Yeah, but...

Even Chuck Todd had to ask Mark Meadows about that on Sunday morning, and Todd even brought up Conway's remark with his "panel."  Todd tried to get Meadows to explain why Trump wasn't in charge now, but would be in charge if he were re-elected.

Answer came there none.

Responsibility v. Irresponsibility



Looking Back In Order To See Forward


And then the Mayor of Portland spoke up (you really need to read all he had to say):
And Trump gets off the golf course in time to blow out three tweets (yeah, I’m not posting his crap):
The quote is Trump’s tell. It means he ain’t gonna do jack. He talks so he won’t have to act. And when he acts, he’s as incompetent as the people he surrounds himself with. They can make matters worse, but anything Trump does now only makes matters worse. He’s not going to send in Feds without authority. So he’s going to Tweet. Angrily.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. This may provoke laughter.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Wrapping Up The Week

There's still something to be said for "objective journalism":

 Seldom if ever has a political party spent so much time during a convention insisting in explicit terms that its nominee was not a racist or a sexist, and that its standard-bearer was, perhaps despite public appearances, a person of empathy and good character. Ben Carson, the lone Black member of Mr. Trump’s cabinet, argued that people who call the president a racist “could not be more wrong.”
And as long as we're being asked to ignore the obvious:

It was not only on matters of character that voters were asked to trust the assertions of Mr. Trump’s family members and political allies over their own perceptions of reality. On no subject was that dynamic more dominant than the coronavirus pandemic: With a few exceptions, nearly every speaker who mentioned the virus sidestepped the scale of its devastation and what is likely to be a slow and painful recovery.

Several speakers, including Vice President Mike Pence, hailed Mr. Trump as a Churchillian leader in the most trying of times. It was an attempt —  not through the deft deployment of facts but through sheer force of assertion — to persuade the majority of voters who believe Mr. Trump mismanaged the coronavirus crisis that, in fact, the opposite is true. 
I mean, when you gotta state the obvious, you gotta state the obvious:

And extending a tension that defined much of the week, Mr. Trump again drove an inconsistent message on criminal justice, bragging of his own efforts to make the system more merciful while claiming that Democrats’ support for more lenient policies would result in hordes of criminals pouring “onto your streets and into your neighborhoods.” 
Especially when the obvious is so obviously stated:

Kellyanne Conway, the outgoing White House aide who spoke at the convention on Wednesday night, suggested in unusually plain terms on Fox News on Thursday morning that she regarded scenes of public disorder as politically useful.

“The more chaos and anarchy and vandalism and violence reigns,” Ms. Conway said, “the better it is for the very clear choice on who’s best on public safety and law and order.”
NYT reports, you decide.

"We're (still) done for!"

And the news only gets worse:

I mean, just put that image up against this:

And of course the image of police in D.C. "clearing" Lafayette Square so Trump could hold up a Bible, that never gets old.

Lay that alongside his demand the mayor of Portland let federal officials back into the city.  Still trying to figure out why Trump didn't "fix" that the first time he was there.  An NYT reporter on Chuck Todd's show pointed out violence in Portland declined after federal troops stopped yanking people off the streets and tear-gassing Moms in t-shirts.  Pretty damned clear where the violence is coming from, aside from people determined to burn buildings (which I consider a separate kind of violence from police violence).

Besides, and honestly:  the violence being discussed so hotly by reporters (because Trump's campaign is discussing it) is in a bubble.  People in Iowa and Wisconsin don't give a shit about protests in Portland.  People in Lake Charles, Louisiana and Orange, Texas, don't give a wet snap about police dereliction in Kenosha.  Most of the country is concerned with their own economic problems and the issues surrounding schools and contagion, issues Trump has done nothing about.  Trump has done nothing for Iowa, and so far less than nothing for Louisiana.  He visited the area yesterday, he's playing golf today.  And he's comforting himself with tweets from PollWatch2020, the "unskew the polls" people of 2020, apparently:
It's like the whole world is a hall of fun-house mirrors.

Name A Big City In South Dakota

Hell, name a city in South Dakota. I’ll wait (Google is for cheaters). An urban area. Anything.

Gov. Roem wrote a long thread complaining about the Mayor if Seattle (yeah, I dunno why, either. Washington doesn’t even border in South Dakota). Apparently murders are up in big cities. Given the state of the economy from the forced lockdowns, I’m not surprised. How that is all the fault of non-Republican mayors is a bit beyond me, especially since GOP leaders are not responsible for anything! Just ask them.

As for mobs running rampant, the only violence in those “mobs” has come from government/police forces, or from professed Trump supporters. (Damage to buildings bothers me far less than damage to people, but neither do I excuse it.) And what violence does occur is in direct, or indirect, response to police violence, which is always against people. So “stop the violence” needs to start with the police. Supposedly we have more control over them.

Yet Gov. Noem wants to encourage police violence.  Maybe because she does have control over them?

Putting Two and Two Together

"No expectation of Trump to do so"?  Yeah, there is, actually:

But the more interesting question is:  why does Trump retweet these people?  8-dimensional chess?  A wink and a nod to Q-Anon?  Or is it all about "me"?

And while we're here, the latest iteration of "Pay no attention to what he says, pay attention to what WE say!"

So that trip to the Scout Jamboree where he talked about orgies on yachts....?

If We Can Call It “Just Politics”

We can comfortably ignore the problem.

Not to mention that white men are telling black men to “shut up and play!” When what the black (and white) football players are concerned with is the indiscriminate shooting of black men by white cops.

The football players aren’t the ones who need to shut up.

Because It Was A Few Years Earlier

1961. 1964. Everything old is new again. Everything.

And a reminder the state of Oregon was founded by white supremacists. So please stop telling me nothing like this has ever happened before.

The Question Is...

...has the University of Alabama shut down yet?

And who thinks this doesn't get exponentially worse when football players start slamming into each other?

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Yeah, The Texas AG Lost That Case

Paxton didn't win that case, but Trump can go on thinking Paxton did. Just means the GOP won't be filing suits in Texas, and in November they may wish they had.

Even Better Than Paper Towels

Opinions Differ

Really has to be looked at objectively, don’t you think?

Property Over People

I'm not a fan of the looting and the burning, but violence against people is worse than violence against buildings.

And it's the violence against people that's the root cause of all this anger in the streets.

Directly Addressing the Concerns of the Midwest

Or not: 

One hundred fifty bushels per acre should be the ballpark crop yield around Storm Lake, Iowa, which is in severe drought along with much of the Corn Belt. That’s a 25% yield chop off expectations. It makes farmers itch to start harvesting before the paper-dry corn falls to a freak wind. A hurricane-like derecho wind flattened 14 million acres in the Tall Corn State just a couple weeks ago. This, as corn prices are at their lowest point in a decade.

The cicadas of late August called children back to school where vulnerable teachers and staff awaited them. Most come from meatpacking households – Latino, Asian and African – whose breadwinners were ordered into close working quarters in April by a President who demanded slower virus testing. We were among the hottest spots in the land.

Yeah, I don't think Iowa gives a shit about conditions in Portland or Chicago.

Trump simply must win Iowa and Wisconsin. So he cast a convention against this backdrop of anxiety and fear – godless looters are coming for yours – and roped in our governor, former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa to play in the tragedy. Few were inclined to listen. When the corn calls, you are too busy removing fallen trees from your machine shed. Trump dropped into the Cedar Rapids airport for an hour shortly before the convention to promise assistance after the derecho pulverized our Second City. After he left, he approved homeowner and business relief for just one of the 27 counties the governor had requested.

I'm left wondering what he's going to do for Louisiana and East Texas.  Besides throw paper towels, I mean.

The election ain't over; but the clown show in the White House is not winning hearts and minds.

A Public Service

If you slept through the 70 minute acceptance speech (or had the good sense to leave the TeeVee off)

Friday, August 28, 2020

If Biden Doesn't Get In Front of This Issue....

And Trump wants to complain about this?

“It’s terrible. I think what they’re doing to the NBA in particular is going to destroy basketball. I can’t – I don’t even watch it. … You know when you watch sports, you want to sort of relax, but this is a whole different world. … You don’t want to stay in politics. You want to relax,” Trump complained.

“It’s very bad for the NBA and it’s going to prove to be very bad for football. Roger Goodell should have learned his lesson two years ago. And I’m not letting up. I’m not letting up. They were begging for mercy two years ago on the flag. I’m not letting up,” he threatened.

“It’s going to be very bad for football and I think it’s very bad for the NBA. Maybe even NBA threatening. And it’s going to be very bad for baseball if they don’t get smarter,” he argued.
Biden's got to get out in front of this before Trump runs away with this issue.

You Couldn’t Do It Before

You had federal troop there. They detained people illegally, assaulted mothers in t-shirts as if they were armed soldiers, and got court orders against your thugs, so you turned tail and ran.

So it will be different this time how?

And from the "Don't You Wish Real Life Was Like This?" Dept.

Yeah, I don't know why I posted that, either.

Holy Shit

I think it's a little more complicated than that.

Mississippi?  God damn!

Even Though the Cinemas Are Closed

Somebody's got to run the projector.

So, wait, you didn't do it after four years, but if we give you four more, you will?

I've been drinking (okay, one beer) and I'm not as confused as that.

(And is it me, or are there really just not that many people there? And I'm not sure I want to have a beer with any of them:

I had beers with people like that in my feckless youth.  I'm have much more feck now.)

The President Is In New Hampshire....

...and he's already bored?

Does he think colleges are run by Democrats?  Does he imagine some vast conspiracy of dark forces bearing the label "Democrats" that exists only to thwart him? Does he think the pandemic is a hoax created to obstruct him?  Seriously: is he that far gone?

Has he decided the pandemic is over because it serves his purpose to think so?  Is he really that far up his own asshole?

Of course, the revealing thing (as was true throughout the RNC) is teh "LIE" that "we are up against."  The convention and every statement about the "evil" of their opponents after is based solely on what they are doing, and trying to blame their opposition for it.  It's childishly revealing, and more than a little disturbing.  These people are profoundly unhinged.  They know the only way they can possibly win is to act as if the Democrats are actually in charge now, and attack them for what the Republicans are responsible for.

Yeah, I don't think that works as well as they think it does.  But that they think it will work, indicates they know they got nuthin'.  Nuthin' at all.

Damn Those Democrats....

...trying so hard to appeal to disaffected Republicans!  When they should be reaching out to progressives!

Voter Suppression, Texas Style

This is very high-grade bullshit.

In a letter dated Aug. 27, Keith Ingram, director of elections for the Texas secretary of state, told Harris County to “immediately halt” its plans to send every registered voter in the county an application for a mail-in ballot for the general election. Ingram demanded the county drop its plan by Monday to avoid legal action by the Texas attorney general.

Sending out the applications "would be contrary to our office’s guidance on this issue and an abuse of voters’ rights under Texas Election Code Section 31.005,” Ingram wrote, citing a provision of state law that gives the secretary of state’s office power to take such action to “protect the voting rights” of Texans from “abuse” by local officials responsible for administering elections.

The "abuse" is making it easier for voters to vote.  I'll just cut to the nub.  The Texas Supreme Court basically sided with Harris County (and other counties) against Paxton's argument that fear of coronavirus contagion was not grounds for requesting a mail-in ballot.  Yes, the Court agreed covid-19 was not explicitly covered in the Election Code, but it agreed with Harris County's argument that the clerk could not investigate requests for mail-in ballots based on disability.  They had to take the voter's representations at face value, and assume good faith.  So while it ruled covid-19 fears were not sufficient to establish a "disability" under the Election Code, it also ruled that investigations of any claim of "disability" on an application for a mail-in ballot were not required before the "disability" could be claimed.

So what Harris County is doing now is simply mailing out applications (which are readily available on-line; it's how I filed my application for a mail-in ballot) to all registered voters, with the information I used in filling out my application.  If that "confuses" voters, the confusion is in the Election Code and the language used by the County Clerk to notify voters of how, and if, they can use a mail-in ballot instead of voting in person.

Which is pretty much what Harris County said to the Texas SOS:  a very polite "fuck you very much."

I like the County's odds in court.

ADDING: early voting in Texas starts October 13, 2020.  If the AG goes to court on this and can't get an injunction to stop the mailing of applications, case closed.  If the AG can get an injunction, all those applications already mailed out, don't get clawed back.  I seriously doubt the AG could get an injunction, but he'd better hurry if he's intent on trying.  The applications already in the mail are beyond the court's reach, and every day that passes means more applications going out.

Not Counting The People Who Watched On Their Boats!

This Explains Why I Can't Get Bison at Costco Anymore

Totally worth it.

Keeping the Elephants Away

I think he means since the white Trump supporter who allegedly shot three people and tried to surrender to police was finally arrested at his home in Illinois and the national attention on that has prompted Kenosha police to temporarily back down from treating protesters like an invading army.

Shows of force just prompt violent responses.  In his imagination Trump is a fierce warrior.  In reality he's a fat old man who's never faced violence in his life, and would react like this if he even faced a crowd of protesters (William Barr is his "fixer"):

and here's that video:

And the difference is between "gangs" and "militias":

Because Trump has yet to denounce the shootings in Kenosha, but he praises the incipient state sponsored violence of the National Guard (probably he hopes to reproduce Kent State to prove how manly he is).
Paul, in the meanwhile, wants to go "medieval" on their asses:

"Arrest 'em all, let God sort 'em out!"  Yeah, that Constitution is just a set of suggestions, anyway.

Does He Understand There Is A Recession?

Much has been made about the RNC's denial of the pandemic.  Just as bad, and alongside it, is the denial of the state of the economy.

I'm old enough to remember....

When the Great Orange Satan and Baby Blue were markers for the rise of "Progressive America."

Whatever happened to that?  Other than everybody quitting Blogger to go to this new thing, "Twitter"?  And now I hear all the "kids" are on TikTok? (Instagram and Shapchat are SO last year!)

You have to give him credit:  when Nixon identified the "silent majority," he went on 3 years later to win the Presidency by probably the most decisive electoral college victory in history (49 states), although many think he was fortunate in his opponent and, besides, he was a wartime President.  "Don't switch dicks in mid-screw" was the opposition argument, because even the opposition saw it coming.  But Nixon's "silent majority" didn't have Facebook; and they didn't want Nixon 2 years after that landslide.  Ford's pardon of Nixon meant he never had a chance in '76.

So now those people have a "voice" and that voice is social media and all of a sudden we're supposed to be afraid?  Just because you can hear them without having to leave the comfy confines of NYC?  Color me unimpressed.  Facebook is known as the place companies put their "websites" (especially the companies that don't want to update their websites, and the genius of that is that you assume the world is registered on Facebook.  I spent an hour last night trying to determine if a local Houston business was still open during covid.  Their website hadn't been updated since March, I couldn't get to their Facebook page (equally antiquated when I finally got a glimpse of it), and I had to piece together the latest word from their Instagram account.  I'm not registered on either of those sites, and this is a 90 year old company that assumes everybody is on Facebook and Instagram.  But if you aren't....  Facebook, by reputation at least, is dominated by people my age (grandparents, IOW).  I don't know who's still on Instagram, but political Twitter is dominated by extremists on either end (at least American political Twitter is).  I assume the same is true of Facebook.

But I don't assume Facebook represents a previously undiscovered country in the heart of America.  Any more, that is, than the real truth is abandoned Wal-Marts are storage centers for black helicopters which are connected by a series of tunnels to all the other Wal-Marts in the country, and the tunnels house billions of aliens (illegal or extraterrestrial) waiting to pour forth like ants and take away our guns.  Or invade our basements with pedophile rings.

I mean, honestly:  I'm more worried about the influence of QAnon on our politics, than about the "silent majority" mouthing off (so, are they "silent" anymore?) on Facebook.  Somebody is keeping FoxNews on the air, too; but I guess we've reconciled to the presence of those people among us.  It is a little scary to think people live among us who still "chat" on Facebook.  But I'm not sure they're alien invaders, either.

Where You Gonna Run To?

“The major theme of all my work,” Perlstein told me in a recent interview, “is a certain kind of denial that you hear again and again, especially among gatekeeping media élites”—the assumption that divisive partisan rhetoric will be self-defeating, that racist or reactionary gestures will be punished at the ballot box, and that, after the dogmatism of Goldwater and the ruthlessness of Nixon and the mendacity of Reagan, the Republican Party can’t possibly get more extreme. “I think liberals tend to see the world in enlightened terms, that the grand story of our history is reason chasing out unreason,” he said. “But there is this constant appeal of reactionary ways of seeing the world. The world is a scary place, America is a scary place, and people want to revert to easy truths and binary black-and-white ways of seeing the world. And that’s just a constant in American history.”

I agree with Rick Perlstein, and I think the reason for this innate conservatism is deeply American, and it isn't traceable just to the rejection of European monarchy or John Wayne-ish "rugged individualism."  In fact, I think both those aspects of American culture actually trace back to this one:  we are an immigrant country.  And immigrants always reach back to the culture they knew when they left the "home country."  They may despise the home country, fleeing it because of despots or war or poverty, but they cherish it, too.  They bring it with them.  They plant it like a flower in their new garden, a memory of "home."  And they preserve "home" in amber.  Like family members you don't see for decades, like nieces and nephews who don't stay children except in your memory, where they are children forever, "home" is unchangeable, and any change to it, is decay and destruction.

I know the feeling.  My formative years, after high school (which really formed me, the years up to high school graduation) were spent in one town.  I lived there as long as I lived in the town I grew up in.  By now I've been away from that town twice as long as I lived there; but it wasn't supposed to change.  It did, of course.  Even the house I owned there (the first one ever I owned) is gone, replaced by a more modern home.  Restaurants I frequented:  gone.  Roads I knew as two-lane, are now divided highways with a dizzying set of on-ramps and off-ramps, and I try to avoid it whenever I'm there.  Nothing is as it was, but it wasn't supposed to change.  It all changed.  And I don't like it.  The city I have lived in for 22 years has changed dramatically since I moved here; but I like it.  I'm comfortable with those changes.  Things gone are replaced by things better.  Even the town I grew up in is no longer the town I grew up in.  The high school and elementary school I attended, are gone, replaced by new and different (and better) buildings.  But I didn't want it to change; I still don't want it to change.

The further you get from "home," especially in time, the more you want "home" to be the same as ever it was.  So we are wildly nostalgic for Christmases and Thanksgivings we never had.  I never had a Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving, but I want to think I will, someday.  I never had a Currier and Ives Christmas, but still I kind of dream of a "White Christmas" as the ideal I should one day see.  We want the "holidays," by which we mean Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve, to be "perfect."  We want to recapture and keep, something we never, ever had.  So of course we "want to revert to easy truths and binary black-and-white ways of seeing the world," of course that's "just a constant in American history."  That's why we came here in the first place:  to bring "home" with us, and do it right this time. We constantly and consistently remember home; and we constantly and consistently want to "fix" home and make it perfect, beceause perfect means unchangeable and unchanging.  But we never have been able to; and we never will be able to.  This is home; but we still want it to be like "home."  Nostalgia, is our original American sin.  And we will never extirpate it.

How can our culture not be a racist one?  We were born in a racist time, just as "race" itself was becoming a social and even a scientific concept.  When Shakespeare wrote about Othello "the Moor," he wasn't writing about a black man as we think of one today, but about a foreigner, an outsider who didn't know all the cultural clues of Venice, where Othello served the Duke and won the heart of Desdemona.  When Iago tells Desdemona's father that Othello's "black ram is tupping your white ewe," Iago is not drawing a picture of miscegenation, but appealling to the basest kind of imagery of the elopement of the two, to shock the man into action, not to make him seek a cross to burn.  All of that came centuries later.  We learned to be racists, and we did it in the crucible of reason which didn't drive out unreason but gave it legitimacy.  It still does.  It took us until 1964 to pass a Civil Rights Act that actually gave some measure of legal equality to people we had denied it to even after the Civil War.  And even then the act only passed over the grieving for JFK, and as a memorial to him as much as for any other reason.  We've learned to live with that, but white men gutted the Voting Rights Act, the first law to actually implement the promises of the 15th amendment, because voting is real power, and civil rights have sort of become background noise.  The more the VRA was implemented, the more dangerous it became, and after 50 years we couldn't have that anymore.  There are still so many ways we don't honor civil rights, but we tell ourselves basketball players are rich, so why do they complain?  How many such men who earn their millions in sports can establish dynasties of wealth like white families such as the Kushners or the Trumps, is a question we never examine.  Just like we take it for granted that "gangs" are for blacks and browns, while white men form "militias."  "Gang" is not a word you find in the Constitution; but "militia" is.  One word is scary, especially to white people; the other word is not, except to agencies like the FBI.

Of course, we also fear black people because we fear justice.  We know how they got here; we know why they were brought here.  We know what we did to them for centuries.  We pretend someone else did it, and the blame was laid to rest long, long ago.  But in our hearts we know better, and we are afraid.  This is the "hidden wound" in America, the one that won't heal because we won't admit it's there.  Just this week Nikki Haley told us America is not a racist country, even as another black man was shot in his car, and the only justification for it so far is that there was a knife in his car.  I have a knife in my pocket.  I used to carry a folding knife on my belt.  I'm white; no policeman was ever going to shoot me in my car over a knife.  And when a white man shot three people in Kenosha, the police who had just thanked him for being there rushed to the blacks and the people standing with those blacks, and ignored the white boy with the rifle.  They still are.  It's like the old joke I heard in my childood, where the black comedian told of his life in the Marines.  The commanding officer told the assembled troops that there was no racism in the Marines, but after the meeting was dismissed he wanted the "dark green Marines" to police the area and clean it up.  We aren't racists; black and brown people just get into trouble more than white people.  It's just the way it is.

We are terrified of justice.  We fear one day that it will actually be done; and then where will we be? How else can we preserve ourselves, except "to revert to easy truths and binary black-and-white ways of seeing the world"?  I will tell you that I don't think Christianity is supposed to support that. I don't think Christianity is supposed to uphold our traditions and our "way of doing things" because "we've always done it like that."  I tried telling my congregation that the hour of worship on Sunday shouldn't be the relaxing time where you "recharge" your spiritual batteries so you can get through another week in the world, but an encounter with the living God so wondrous and challenging and maybe a bit terrifying, that the rest of the week is a piece of cake.  True Christian worship should change your perspective on your life in this world, and change it for the better.  An encounter with eternity, however brief it might be, would make the daily grind insignificant, even luminous with wonder!  It's really no surprise I didn't keep a church for long, and no other church was that anxious to have me (or I to take a chance on them).  I often thought of the last line of Twain's "The War Prayer," except I didn't mean it as self-justification when I applied it.  I meant it (and still do) as self-criticism:  "It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said."  As Dirty Harry said, "Man got to know his limitations."  I'm still not convinced there's any sense in what I say.

But how much sense is there in "Congratulations, you poor!   The earth is your inheritance!"?  I mean, I understand what I understand it means, but I think the lack of sense in it, is the sense in it.  And I think there's more sense in the gospel and the epistles and the witness of the saints and the clouds of witness themselves, than in all the philosophy and literature in the world.  But I don't think that's proof that I know what I'm talking about.  At best I'm Socrates, and I can perhaps persuade you that you don't know what you're talking about.  And that might lead you to an epiphany; but not until you face the dark interval of doubting whether anything you know is right.  That's how the parables of Jesus work, as Dom Crossan taught me.  The prodigal son, for instance, tells his father to drop dead so the son can have his inheritance now.  And the father does, metaphorically, drop dead, to accede to his son's wishes.  And when the son comes home penniless and broken, the father welcomes him back (who among us wouldn't?  But who among us would divide the estate in the first place, and give it all to the children?  We all know the lesson of Lear.) and slays the fatted calf (which belongs to his other son) and calls for a party (paid for by his other son), and then tells that other son his brother who was dead is alive, and this calls for a party!  And we are the other son, standing outside the party, ashamed to go in, ashamed to stay out.  And in that dark interval, what do we decide, and why?

"Congratulations, you poor, you destite, you who have nothing!  The earth is your inheritance!"  We are so very afraid that might be true.  That nothing we have is legitimately owned; and that we can't go home again.  What else can we do except "revert to easy truths and binary black-and-white ways of seeing the world"?  What else can that be except "a constant in American history”?

"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

Thursday, August 27, 2020


But...Democrat run cities!*
Another blast from the past that some Republican will have to tell us was a hoax!


* Still, not good for their side.

I Suppose, But...

He reads like a third-grader. Learning to read.

Trump says the “Democrat run cities” could ask for help and he would clean them up in hours (“Like Portland, where you ran away after beating up Moms?” “Shaddup!”). Doesn’t explain how that will be different in his second term.
Answer comes there none.
Again: what’s he waiting for?
Yeah, and I wish he’d finish. I want to watch the local news.

And that pumpkin makeup is not working for him. 🎃

The New Invisibility

So much winning!

It's Driving Them Nuts that Biden is Leading

And when is Trump going to go throw paper towels at people in Louisiana?

Too true to be good:
But this is another story:

And while we're looking at videos:

Does History Alliterate?

But here's the intersting bit of the story:

According to Woodstein (and my memory of the dialogue in the movie) John Mitchell (no longer US AG at that point) called Ben Bradlee and threatened to put Katherine Graham's tits in a wringer (his words, not mine) if the Post didn't back off the then nascent Watergate story.

Nobody ever doubted that threat came straight from Nixon.

In a few months Trump will have no power at all.  And then the Emperor is going to be extremely naked, indeed.

Our Man on Their Side: A Continuing Series


Eric Trump?  Donald, Jr.?  Operators are standing by to tally your vote.  This is a free call.

And as a man with a daughter:

And on the subject of the POTUS:

And, again:  not sure that's quite what you meant to say:

But we'll take it as read.