Sunday, January 31, 2021

I Would Like To Say I'm Surprised....

But to lighten the mood on a Sunday Afternoon, a game we can all play! I know it seems to be taking forever, but the GOP really is grinding to a halt.

Taking Advantage Of Every Opportunity

Funny how Trump is determined to make this task even easier.

Bad Legal Takes


 “The answer is clear,” Scalia wrote. “If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede. (Hence, in the Pledge of Allegiance, ‘one Nation, indivisible.’)”

I know Scalia was not writing a legal opinion; but the context for that quote is this:

If there were any doubt remaining after that, late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia set it to rest more than a century later with his response to a letter from a screenwriter in 2006 asking if there is a legal basis for secession.

And the context for that quote is the immediately preceding paragraph, viz;

Yet even before Texas formally rejoined the nation, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that secession was not legal, and thus, even during the rebellion, Texas continued to be a state. In the 1869 case Texas v. White, the court held that individual states could not unilaterally secede from the Union and that the acts of the insurgent Texas Legislature — even if ratified by a majority of Texans — were “absolutely null.”

Why do I mention all this?  Because the Pledge of Allegiance is not a legal document.  

The Pledge of Allegiance was written in August 1892 by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy (1855-1931). It was originally published in The Youth's Companion on September 8, 1892. Bellamy had hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country.

In its original form it read:

"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

In 1923, the words, "the Flag of the United States of America" were added. At this time it read:

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words "under God," creating the 31-word pledge we say today. Bellamy's daughter objected to this alteration.  

If you're like me, you're wondering about that "socialist minister" designation.

Bellamy was a Christian socialist who "championed 'the rights of working people and the equal distribution of economic resources, which he believed was inherent in the teachings of Jesus.'" In 1891, Bellamy was "forced from his Boston pulpit for preaching against the evils of capitalism", and eventually stopped attending church altogether after moving to Florida, reportedly because of the racism he witnessed there.  Francis's career as a preacher ended because of his tendency to describe Jesus as a socialist. In the 21st century, Bellamy is considered an early American Republican socialist.

A man after my own heart.

Still, Scalia's "argument" is no more a legal opinion than shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theater is banned by the First Amendment.  I just wanted to make that clear.  Secession of the states from the Union is not only not allowed by the Union, it's a legal nullity.  Sort of like declaring yourself a "sovereign citizen" (remember those?).  Go ahead and do it, but no court or government is going to recognize your claim (probably why they finally dwindled out of perception).

I kinda like the original pledge.  At least in it's 19th century context.  Really can't recite it anymore (personal experiences, nothing for you to be aware of).

What Lies At The Radix


 Andrews reaches the civil-rights movement, in many ways the epicenter of the boomer experience, later in her book, in a chapter on Sharpton. Her view of integration seems to be that it was rushed and hasty, and created a predictable and unnecessary backlash. She is with the teachers whose newly integrated schools had “tenth graders who couldn’t write their own names and sixth graders who couldn’t find Washington on a map.” She wishes that political leaders had “met white parents’ concerns about school discipline with enforcement measures that would have ensured their children could use playgrounds without getting their heads kicked in.” Her portrait of Jesse Jackson, a major figure in this chapter, describes him as holding businesses hostage and using members of the “the South Side’s most notorious gang to intimidate grocery store owners into cooperating with him,” to push for racial change that couldn’t yet be achieved at the ballot box: “Jesse Jackson’s career—indeed, the whole civil rights movement after 1970—has been dedicated to circumventing that democratic system.” In her case study of Chicago, she suggests that the real path to political fulfillment for Black Americans lay through the political machine of William Daley: “The Chicago Freedom Movement has gone down in history as a failure for the civil rights movement, but the real lesson was for the average black citizen of Chicago, Daley’s method of politics simply had more to offer.”

It is hard not to see some prejudice in this. I also see misapprehension. The many hundreds of thousands of people who demonstrated for civil rights were not conjured by Sharpton or Jackson—their demands for change were real. Liberation, here, wasn’t an entitled fantasy but a popular demand. Andrews believes in the strength of traditional institutions—the church, the nuclear family, the big-city political machine—and argues that American decline tracks with our abandonment of them. But if the traditional family could not accommodate the desire of some women to have fewer babies and a professional life, and the traditional church could not tolerate the range of human sexuality, then these were not really very strong institutions, after all. You don’t need to have an uncomplicated view of Al Sharpton to realize that the desire of Black people for equality and self-determination was just not going to be satisfied by Daley’s Chicago machine.

I'm trying to figure out how to get at this because:  damn!  But is it so important it deserves special mention, or is it just another reflection of Life In These United States?  And yeah, the reference to Reader's Digest is intentional because you can't really understand (or explain, or complain about) Boomers without taking into account influences which were deep and strong (and more long-lasting than LIFE and LOOK, which faded away early in my youth) and, for the most part, no longer exist.

But I digress.

The topic is Boomers, and the author (not of the New Yorker essay) is "a young conservative writer named Helen Andrews" whose editor at First Things ("America's Most Influential of Religion and Public Life"  I just know I'd never heard of it; and it's article on "Wonder Woman 1984" had nothing to do with religion or public life.  It was just a brief recap of the story, with something of a critique in the final paragraph.  I require my students to do better when I teach the concept of a review) decided Ms. Andrews:

should write a book of biographical sketches of significant boomers, and through them define the generation’s responsibility for the decline of liberal culture. In the preface to “Boomers,” the book that this project produced, Andrews writes, “I forgave my editor for elaborating on my suitability for the project by saying, ‘You’re like Strachey; you’re an essayist, and you’re mean.’ ”

And racist, though Mr. Wallace-Wells declines to use the term, preferring the more anodyne term "prejudice," and even then almost afraid to attribute that vice to Ms. Andrews.  But this is why I write; at least on this minor topic about a writer I've never heard of (and pretty much don't need to hear from again).  And here it is, as described by Mr. Wallace-Wells:

Her view of integration seems to be that it was rushed and hasty, and created a predictable and unnecessary backlash. She is with the teachers whose newly integrated schools had “tenth graders who couldn’t write their own names and sixth graders who couldn’t find Washington on a map.” She wishes that political leaders had “met white parents’ concerns about school discipline with enforcement measures that would have ensured their children could use playgrounds without getting their heads kicked in.”

I'm guessing Ms. Andrews is too young to remember the world before school integration, or to have heard the words of Dr. King (beyond the phrase "I have a dream!"), and too poorly educated to have read Dr. King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail," which addresses her first concern with integration:

One of the basic points in your statement is that the action that I and my associates have taken in Birmingham is untimely. Some have asked: "Why didn't you give the new city administration time to act?" The only answer that I can give to this query is that the new Birmingham administration must be prodded about as much as the outgoing one, before it will act. We are sadly mistaken if we feel that the election of Albert Boutwell as mayor will bring the millennium to Birmingham. While Mr. Boutwell is a much more gentle person than Mr. Connor, they are both segregationists, dedicated to maintenance of the status quo. I have hope that Mr. Boutwell will be reasonable enough to see the futility of massive resistance to desegregation. But he will not see this without pressure from devotees of civil rights. My friends, I must say to you that we have not made a single gain in civil rights without determined legal and nonviolent pressure. Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. Individuals may see the moral light and voluntarily give up their unjust posture; but, as Reinhold Niebuhr has reminded us, groups tend to be more immoral than individuals.

We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was "well timed" in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "Wait!" It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied."

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six year old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five year old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross county drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness"--then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience. You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statutes are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the personality. It gives the segregator a false sense of superiority and the segregated a false sense of inferiority. Segregation, to use the terminology of the Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, substitutes an "I it" relationship for an "I thou" relationship and ends up relegating persons to the status of things. Hence segregation is not only politically, economically and sociologically unsound, it is morally wrong and sinful. Paul Tillich has said that sin is separation. Is not segregation an existential expression of man's tragic separation, his awful estrangement, his terrible sinfulness? Thus it is that I can urge men to obey the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court, for it is morally right; and I can urge them to disobey segregation ordinances, for they are morally wrong.

Brown v. Board was handed down in 1954; Dr. King wrote that letter from jail in 1963; the schools I attended weren't integrated until 1971, schools in "liberal' Austin were still fighting issues of integration and equal access when I moved there in 1978, and when I left in 1993.  And yet Ms. Andrews still thinks we should "Wait!"

Yeah; no.

But that's a minor pecadillo compared with the next sentence, which explains the problem Brown v. Board was trying to correct in stark terms.  Alas, it is a reality Ms. Andrews is blind to:

 She is with the teachers whose newly integrated schools had “tenth graders who couldn’t write their own names and sixth graders who couldn’t find Washington on a map.” 

It's pretty obvious, though, that those students she is concerned about are white; because:

She wishes that political leaders had “met white parents’ concerns about school discipline with enforcement measures that would have ensured their children could use playgrounds without getting their heads kicked in.” 

Those "white parents" aren't worried about their white children being kicked by other white children, are they?  Otherwise this concern wouldn't have any place in a discussion of school integration which should have been delayed because of feared violence like this.  Didn't the nation just have an eruption of people on the streets because of this kind of sanctioned police violence, a violence that continues despite those demonstrations?  Do we still not dare call that kind of violence "racist"?  Do we still not dare call the fear of that violence from blacks against whites (which justifies the suppression of blacks in every way possible) racism?


Everything old is new again.  Except it's not; new, I mean.  It's old; very, very old.  4 centuries old, at least.  It's embedded so deeply in what America is, I'm not sure we'll ever root it out.


The Orient Express Defense

“I can’t be guilty of murder because, although I did it, he deserved to die.”

Trump is determined to erase that defense.

Not Leaving Well Enough Alone

Part of the problem here is that Dominion's claims against various parties is the exception that proves the rule. Dominion can show actual damages from the lies spread by the parties it has sent demand letters to; which is why so many of them retracted their statements ASAP, in hopes of appeasing Dominion (and probably will. Civil suits are expensive and collection is never guaranteed and always comes years later and what's the point of trying to collect damages for the bankruptcy trustee?). Those damages accrue from loss of sales and may even include claims of tortious interference with business (a separate tort from libel).

LP is clearly going for libel per se, here.  Allegations of a criminal act can be libelous without showing actual damages, but that doesn't mean damages are thereby set at an astronomical sum.  It just means you don't have to clear that hurdle to show your libel suit is meritorious.  This is where the court could just award $1.00 in damages, and call its job done.

So the letter here is really just a chest-pounding measure that let's the client think "My lawyer's got a bigger dick than your lawyer!"  Which is fine, I suppose; lawyers do that a lot, just to bluster on behalf of a client and make them feel better, or at least justified in their anger (so much of civil litigation is about anger, and seldom anything more).

Me, I'd have counseled LP to just leave it alone.  But LP has a reputation to defend, in a way; so a blustering letter is better than silence.  And silence is better than a blustering letter without a threat.  Now, if they follow up, it's a complete waste of time and the only winner is going to be the lawyers; on both sides.

Which is more often than not true in suits of this kind, anyway.  Nobody takes on a libel suit on a contingency basis.  

Why, O Why?

Won't the House Republicans join together with the House Democrats to expel MTG for her racism and anti-semitism and generally insane ideas and beliefs?
Houston, we've found the problem.
Well, it's a good outlook for the mid-terms, right, Mitch? The GOP has found its AOC. Hope they enjoy her.

Reality is Such a Bitch!!

Saturday, January 30, 2021

So, Trump Wanted Giuliani...

... and he got Robert Mueller.

But rust never sleeps:
Because sure, why not? I.e., he couldn't get out of paying them by promising payment after the trial. I really don't think Bannon has Trump's best interests at heart. Or Bannon is just that stupid. Or yes; both. Back to Maggie:

Mr. Trump prefers lawyers who are eager to appear on television to say that he never did anything wrong; Mr. Bowers has been noticeably absent in the news media since his hiring was announced.

Then there are the interesting bits from the article:

Mr. Trump had pushed for his defense team to focus on his baseless claim that the election was stolen from him, one person familiar with the situation said. A person close to Mr. Trump disputed that that was the case but acknowledged that there were differences in opinion about the defense strategy. However, Mr. Trump has insisted that the case is “simple” and has told advisers he could argue it himself and save the money on lawyers. (Aides contend he is not seriously contemplating doing so.)

So, Trump wants to re-litigate the election, when the charges against him are about the insurrection.  And if Trump is not "seriously contemplating" representing himself, who is?

Mr. Trump is due to file a response to the House charges by Tuesday.

In a court of law, missing such deadlines could result in a default judgment.  You lose, in other words.  I have no idea what the Senate rules are on this, but I doubt a default judgment is in the cards. 

Still, the question of constitutionality is likely to be a key part of Mr. Trump’s defense.

I gotta say, I don't think Trump can spell "constitutionality."  I'm not even sure he can say it. And frankly, on that particular point, the reporting is muddled:

The Senate needs a two-thirds majority, or 67 votes, to convict Mr. Trump, meaning 17 Republicans would need to cross party lines to side with Democrats in finding him guilty. An additional vote, this one requiring a simple majority, would be needed to disqualify him from holding office again. Still, most of his aides say they doubt he will run for office again.

I'm left wondering how much political power Trump just lost.

And this is kinda what I was thinking: Trump is doing his damndest to screw himself into the ground. It's bound to work, sooner or later.  I see him burning up whatever credibility/strength/terrorism he has left.  The GOP will truly be between Scylla and Charybdis:  ignore Trump and prove to the nation you're all MTG now; convict Trump, and have Trump's base turn against you in primaries.

They rode the tiger; now it's going to eat them.

"That Whole Nuremberg Trial Thing?"

Would have been much better if we'd just skipped that and went straight on to "unity."

A Monk, A Theologian, A Mystic

"Three things strike me about one of history's Christians, Thomas Aquinas. (1) He was a friar, a monk; (2) he was a theologian; (3) he was a mystic."

 I will leave it to you to read about the brief section on the conditions that surrounded his role as a theologian but it is as a mystic that, as actually turned off by Aquinas's theology as I am, I find something that is reported about him late in life as leading me to respect him.  Rahner gives a brief mention of it.

 "When we speak of Thomas as a mystic we do not mean that he had frequent ecstasies or visions or that he was a little introverted or overly concerned about his own experiences. There seems to he nothing of this in his writings. Yet Thomas was a mystic. He knew about "the hidden Godhead," Adoro te devote, latens deitas (Devoutly I adore thee, hidden Deity). He knew the hidden God. He spoke of the God who pervades and determines everything in silence. He spoke of a God beyond everything holy theology could say about him. He spoke of the God he loved as inconceivable. And he knew about these things not only from theology but from the experience of his heart. He knew and experienced so much that in the end he substituted silence for theological words. He no longer wrote, and considered all that he had written to be "straw." As he lay dying, he spoke a little about the Canticle of Canticles, that great song of love, and then was silent. He became silent because he wanted to let God alone be heard in lieu of those human words he had spoken for us.

 Thomas lives. He may seem far away but he is not in reality, for the community of saints is close. The saints come to us overshadowed by the brilliance of the eternal God into whom they have plummeted through the centuries. But God is not a god of the dead but of the living, and whoever has gone home to him, lives. And so Thomas lives. The question for us is: Does our faith live? For it is through our faith that Thomas can become part of our own life."

 It has to stand as one of the rarest of things for an academic, a scholastic, a writer of a huge, major piece of thought that took enormous effort, both in the preparatory study and in the writing, revising, editing (with a friggin' quill pen, not a word processor or even text editor) and final draft, to then declare that his enormous, impressive, life's work is as nothing, mere "straw" something that later hierarchs would ignore as they gave that straw a status which became totalitarian in its potential oppressiveness, the  opposite of the freedom which is promised to be a result of knowing the truth, why Catholic right-wingers pretend that they study and take Aquinas dead serious and apply the writings that he more or less repudiated, himself, to modern life, looking in it for means of opposing, for example, the rights of women, prisoners, workers, the poor.  I think if Aquinas had any idea of the use his writings would be put to in later centuries I think he wouldn't have started to write it. 

 So I can think well of Thomas Aquinas but not for the reasons most people would.  I disagree with much of what he wrote and I think the use that has been put to has been generally unfortunate.  I honor him for that great act of humility, of honesty, of giving up everything he had, what he had created.  I think in the end anyone, modern theologians as well as those of the 13th century and the fifth, need to understand that as cool as they want their thinking to be, as removed from corrupting biases and a priori considerations, we are not a party to the perfect knowledge that would be required to do that, everything we think, everything we want, everything we want to be true or feel we must hold to be true is a product of our own minds, our pasts, our own experiences and there is nothing to be done about that.  It is as true for the hardest of hard science and mathematics and even more so as we deal with more complex realities than those most reputable of modern idols in our imaginations deal with. 

 When I got up this morning, I have to say, writing about Thomas Aquinas was nothing I expected to be doing.   

The bold bits, above, are from a sermon by Karl Rahner.  The rest is from a post by Thought Criminal. This should have been a comment on that post; but I knew it would run too long, so I brought the post over here.

I read an account of Aquinas after he'd finished the Summa, a book I've never essayed but should.  The story was he had a vision which rendered all he'd done as straw (so it conforms to that extent with Rahner's knowledge), and he never wrote another word.  It's extremely strange to think of Aquinas as a mystic.  His theology was grounded firmly in the 13th century and in the then newly-discovered (thanks to its preservation by the Muslims) works of Aristotle.  Aristotle pretty much upended Christian theology, which battled from then on between Neo-Platonism and Aristotelianism.  Neo-Platonic theology I have read, and it's (by modern standards) excessively bizarre stuff.  Aristotle is almost the anti-NeoPlatonism.  I can understand mysticism in the context of neo-Platonism; but in the context of Aristotelianism, it's bizaare almost to the point of unthinkable.

But here we are.

Still, if you're looking for the "angels dancing on the head of a pin" stuff, you're looking at Platonic theology, and likely through the lens of Aristotelian philosophy.  But Whitehead is still right; even Aristotle is just a footnote to Plato.  Saying that is not saying it's a good thing; it's just true.

But I'm interested in Aquinas as a mystic.  Francis was not known for his mysticism; even though he's the first person to have reportedly displayed the stigmata, the wounds of Christ from the cross.  That's usually considered a sign of Christian mysticism, although Christian mystics almost uniformly decline to endorse signs of the presence or even actions of God.  Francis didn't promote his stigmata, or present them as proof of anything.  His followers, his fellow monks, did that.  Aquinas, equally, didn't write an account of his experience.  Instead, he stopped talking.

It's tempting, in modern times, to connect that silence to the ending of Wittgenstein's Tractatus:

 What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.

But Wittgenstein was not advocating mysticism; rather, he was trying to limit what philosophy could discuss, what language could converse about.  His effort, I am more and more convinced, was not that different a goal than what Hume had in mind.  But I don't think he meant to stop all discussion of human experience, any more than Hume did.  Wittgenstein just wanted to be sure we understood what we meant when we discussed our experiences, and how much we presumed (but shouldn't) in our discussions.  I think this line of analysis bleeds over into Derrida's assault on the primacy of logos in Western philosophy; but I'm not trying to open a seminar on modernist philosophy.  I'm trying, instead, to consider the limitations of language, and the broadness of human experience.

Most of Christian mysticism struggles with the constraints of language.  "The Cloud of Unknowing" approaches this by inventing a word ("unknowing") and trying to make a positive concept of it (it is neither ignorance nor blankness nor denial of knowledge, but it is a true experience of God).  The Hebrew scriptures do something similar, as when God is present to Elijah.  There are the elements of the theophany familiar from Moses atop Sinai:  fire, earthquake, and storm.  But each event is described, and the story tells us God is not in any of these things, though they are real and are "signs" of the presence of God.  When God appears in the throne room of Isaiah's vision, God is there but not there, because the doxa, the glory, of God makes God obscure.  In Ezekiel's vision God erupts from the Temple in Jerusalem on a throne chariot impossible in its physical details but metaphorically representing God's freedom to be anywhere and everywhere at once or at any time.  And again, God's glory obscures God's presence, even as it announces and results from that presence.  Which can be connected to Rahner's words in his sermon:

To reflect upon Thomas Aquinas as patron of theological studies does not mean merely to think back on some man in History or on his influence in Western thought. Because we are Christians, we are linked to him; we can actually see him as a fellow Christian in the community of saints. Those Christians who have gone before us into the assembly of saints are not dead; they live. They live in perfection, that is, in the true Reality which is also powerful and present among us today. Some of them we can call by name. These Christian men and women can be more real and more important I or its than theoretical principles or abstract ideas. In many ways they are even more real than we are, for they are with God. They love us; we love theta. They are present at the eternal liturgy of heaven, and intercede there for its their brothers.

In comparison to the saints' present existence, their past. history on earth is comparatively of little significance. They now live the quintessence of our life on earth in an eternal form, and the Reality in which they exist is in the last analysis the ground of all reality on earth. They do not belong to the past at all, except insofar as they have lived on earth in past history. Actually they have run ahead, hastened forward into the future, a future waiting for us. To look at a saint., then, is not. to look at something abstract or impersonal, something dead, but rather to sec a concrete person, a unique individual, once alive on earth and now eternally alive, someone who loves and praises, someone who is blessed and redeemed.

Rahner there tries to give words to the ineffable, the inexpressible, that is God.  But all he can come up with is "the true Reality which is also present and among us today," and "in the last analysis the ground of all reality on earth."  It is the language of theologians, which is to say it's a vocabulary limited even among vocabularies.  I would not call it a language game, but I would point out its limitation even among the limitations of language we all strain against.  This description is even further limited to those conversant with the concept of "true Reality," even if they can't agree on just what that concept is.  "What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence."  Still not what Wittgenstein meant, but as Humpty Dumpty asked Alice:  "Who's to be the master, then?  You, or the word?"  Lewis Carroll is an underrated philosopher; and maybe a theologian, too.

I'll have to think about that.

Condemning Virtue Signaling... virtue signaling. A long (for Twitter) thread denouncing (correctly) the foolishness of filing lawsuits for purposes of “making a point” rather than because a tort gas actually occurred.

I went “legal” there because that’s the point. You could reduce that 9 tweet thread to one simple statement: “No damages, no point.”

It’s true, courts don’t exist for virtue signaling; but, like God, they don’t need you to protect them. The first issue of a libel case is not the First Amendment and actual malice; it’s damages. You can’t sue someone for libel because you don’t like what someone said about you. You can only sue at all to recover damages; and libel isn’t actionable unless you can show actual damages. That the libel cost you money, in other words.(Yes, there’s libel per se, we’re setting that aside.)  In the context of these tweets, Lincoln Project can’t really sue Giuliani for his stupid statement they caused the Capitol riot. Whether they should, I suppose, is worth a discussion; but only in a fully ironic way.

Unless LP has lawyers of the caliber of Lin Woods, Sydney Powell, or Giuliani, Giuliani won’t even get a demand letter. In fact, let me shorten this: It may be defamatory; but even if it’s libel per se (you don’t have to prove actual damages), you might well end up with damages of $1. Literally.

And I’m pretty sure Popehat knows that.

The problem with libel as a tort is that it’s already legalized virtue signaling. It’s a tort for the wealthy and the well-off. If Donald Trump were to libel me by name tomorrow, could I sue him? Sure; but for what? Libel is limited to “actual damages.” I can’t sue for emotional distress or some inchoate injury. What actual damages do I suffer from the libel? Unless I lose my job or it damages my business, none at all. In my present circumstances, even losing my job wouldn’t pay the legal fees. I’d lose money, in other words.

When you hear about libel suits, the odds are it’s from England and it involves someone of high social standing. It’s a relic of the English class system: insulting a peer calls into question the class system. Libel was a protection of that system, nothing more. A peer could libel a peon with impunity; but it could not run the other way.

So pardon me if I’m not impressed with even the idea of a libel suit. Their raison d’etre is to keep the many-headed from disturbing the privileges of the few, anyway. Which is really the point of virtue signaling in the first place.
I know how he feels.

This Racism Thing Isn't Going Away Soon

How do you "weaponize" anti-semitism? Isn't that like "weaponizing" a ... weapon?

We really just need to put all the events of the last four years and especially the last 3 weeks behind us, and "unify":

And How’d That Work Out For Ya?

And now the entire GOP is held hostage...

Friday, January 29, 2021

I'm Pretty Sure this Game Stop/Robin Hood Thing Involves the First Amendment

I'll have to consult legal twitter about that. Well, that helps. I guess.... Makes sense to me.

About That First Amendment

Your opinions are capital offenses.  My opinions are sacrosanct.

Fortunate In His Enemies

No one is talking about Biden’s siblings anymore.

As I Was Saying About Racism

Meanwhile, in Florida: Still making deals with the devil. What’s the long term option on that?

Rep. Greene Should Be Left Alone

And Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley are being "canceled." But I can imagine how dangerous Sen. Professor Warren is going to be declared.

In Memory Greene

I'm old enough to remember when racism and anti-semitism were so toxic no one dared associate with them; publicly, at least. It all starts at the top: And it comes out here:

"The Deserving Poor"

...are the ones who don't piss us off.


What a despot. Or is it tyrant? Does it really matter? It's clearly aimed at undoing Trump. This really should wait for a Congressional resolution, or something. So clearly it is an assault on Trump; and the Congressional GOP.


When is that "storm" coming again? The bad take here is the number of people on Twitter who don’t realize this is satire. The rule of thumb is: nobody on “legal Twitter” knows what they’re talking about. It’s safer that way. The gift that keeps on giving. Uh, yeah...uh...I mean...what? Because that’s the problem with how we elect Presidents: not enough people involved in the election outcome. And in Russia Putin punishes Navalny because Putin doesn’t want to lose either, but he controls the government. Trump only controls the GOP, so we’re not a dictatorship. See? Alright, they aren’t all bad.

More Insight

I had seen this story and thought to post it as an example of people watching too many movies and mistaking them for reality.

And then I saw this bit about the “Jewish space laser.”

That’s when it got more than weird enough for me.
Wonder what they think now.

January 27 was “Holocaust Remembrance Day”

I can't even....although I'm imagining the "deals that will live infamy" tweet on December 8, 2021.

I’m Starting To Feel Optimistic About The Future

Dan Patrick Went International

Who knew?

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Strange Bedfellows

Talk about trying to fight out of your weight class....

Freedom Fries!

Man Nibbles Madeline

Remembers everything.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Spending All Day Away From Twitter

I'd put less weight on the "evidence" (as a Senate impeachment trial is not conducted according to the Federal Rules of Evidence) than on the public presentation of that evidence. The Lovely Wife watched the Frontline documentary on Trump's "American Carnage" last night, and assured me playing that one-hour alone in the Senate would be enough to convict Trump. Again, not "evidence," but it would certainly persuade a majority of the American public that a criminal trial against a former POTUS would not, in this case, be either an outrage or a "Constitutional crisis" (still not sure just what that is). And that could be very important in persuading the D.C. U.S. Attorney to bring conspiracy charges against Trump (I'm not a criminal lawyer nor a former prosecutor, but that seems to me the best course to investigate. I'm just spit-ballin', in other words.).

The Senate trial will pay other dividends, too:
It seems that, since 2016, the value of Trump's New York City properties has dropped by 50%. No small part of that plummet came after January 6. And this is not limited to NYC: If people are already forgetting what a traitor (in the popular, not the legal Constitutional, sense) Trump is, an impeachment trial with lurid testimony could remind them. Then there's the question of injuries to police officers in the riot:
"We have one officer who lost his life as a direct result of the insurrection," Papathanasiou noted. "Another officer had tragically taken his own life. Between USCP and our colleagues at the Metropolitan Police Department, we have almost 140 officers injured."

"I have officers who were not issued helmets prior to the attack who have sustained brain injuries," he continued. "One officer has two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal discs. One officer is going to lose his eye, and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake."

I don't want to trade on their pain and suffering, but let's remind the American public what happened while Trump was gleefully watching TeeVee and tweeting about what a "coward" Mike Pence was (as crowds stormed the building shouting "Hang Pence!  Hang Pence!"  PBS played the video of that last night; the House prosecutors will have no trouble presenting it, along with reports of Trump watching with delight as the flames climbed high into the night to light the sacrificial rite.).  And, of course, let the GOP Senators say "Nothing to see here, and nothing we can do about it!"

This situation sickens me; but the outcome could pay dividends. Like destroying latent Trumpism, whose shelf-life has, frankly, diminished rapidly:
From what I've been reading about Cawthorn, he's about to be relegated to the status of Louie Gohmert-in-waiting. He may keep his district (more fool them), but an influencer? Yeah, he needs to work harder on his "comms." And while I'm wandering around Twitter: Did McCarthy convey that message to Trump? Inquiring minds want to know. Oh, and about that GOP=Trump voters issue: David Perdue, to remind you, lost. In a runoff. In Georgia. 

I'll leave you with this glimpse into the near future:


But then this happened: Now the Republicans can say “We just think this should be handled by a court of law.” And they wash their hands of all responsibility.

Because punishment of a POTUS via impeachment is NEVER going to happen.

Truer Words

"The Song for Simeon"

"The Song for Simeon"

Lord, the Roman hyacinths are blooming in bowls and
The winter sun creeps by the snow hills;
The stubborn season has made stand.
My life is light, waiting for the death wind,
Like a feather on the back of my hand.
Dust in sunlight and memory in corners
Wait for the wind that chills towards the dead land.

Grant us thy peace.
I have walked many years in this city,
Kept faith and fast, provided for the poor,
Have given and taken honour and ease.
There went never any rejected from my door.
Who shall remember my house, where shall live my children’s children
When the time of sorrow is come?
They will take to the goat’s path, and the fox’s home,
Fleeing from foreign faces and the foreign swords.

Before the time of cords and scourges and lamentation
Grant us thy peace.
Before the stations of the mountain of desolation,
Before the certain hour of maternal sorrow,
Now at this birth season of decease,
Let the Infant, the still unspeaking and unspoken Word,
Grant Israel’s consolation
To one who has eighty years and no to-morrow.

According to thy word.
They shall praise Thee and suffer in every generation
With glory and derision,
Light upon light, mounting the saints’ stair.
Not for me the martyrdom, the ecstasy of thought and prayer,
Not for me the ultimate vision.
Grant me thy peace.
(And a sword shall pierce thy heart,
Thine also).
I am tired with my own life and the lives of those after me,
I am dying in my own death and the deaths of those after me.
Let thy servant depart,
Having seen thy salvation.

--T.S. Eliot

The Inevitable End Of “Cancel Culture”

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Cancel Is As Cancel Does

Besides, the interns did it: They photoshopped this speech, too: This is all perfectly reasonable: Although bringing it up is clearly an effort to cancel....something. Well, at least the people in Greene's district.

Proclaim Release To The Captive

Well, yeah, but isn’t that the problem with prisons, period? But let’s not talk about that, shall we?


Biden to Doocy: Fuck you. It was also a fair response. White House to Doocy: Fuck you very much!

I can't say I don't enjoy it.

A Patch Of Ice Doth Not...

Well, for 14 days:

“In its Emergency Application, Texas argues it will likely succeed on the merits of its challenges to the January 20 Memorandum, there is a significant risk it would suffer imminent and irreparable harm if a [temporary restraining order] is not granted, and a [temporary restraining order] would not harm Defendants or the public,” he wrote.

If you call that "victory" I suspect you didn't think you had a chance to get this far.  And I rather expect that TRO to be overturned by the 5th Circuit or the Supremes.  I don't think the trial court balanced the equities all that carefully. 

Besides, what does this TRO do?