Category Archives: Religion

If She Was Your Daughter

Do you know how many women I know, who told their fathers? Who told their mothers, their friends, a “trusted adult” that they were being hurt or had been hurt? Do you know how many of these people, who have daughters, did nothing?

Homeless shelters are full of girls and boys whose parents chose their abusers over them. It happens every day.

Let me tell you what they’d do, these upstanding Republican congressmen, if it was their daughters.

They’d say to their girls, their beloved girls who they taught to throw a ball just like a boy and who they said could do anything a man could do and whose report cards they pinned to the fridge, they’d say:

You’re making that up.

They’d say:

He didn’t really mean it.

They’d say:

You led him on.

 

They’d say:

You should forgive him.

You know why they’d say those things to the girls they read bedtime stories to every night? You know why they’d back down in the face of someone who bullied their own flesh and blood?

Because nothing matters more than the status quo.

Do you know how many of these men have already faced the fact that it was their daughters?

Do you know how many of them did nothing?

I can even understand it, you know. It’s a human instinct to protect your relationships, and so you gamble: You call out a man for hurting your child, he might leave. He might cause trouble for you. He might get you fired or fight you or find a way to make you less, turn all your friends against you, refuse to work with you, tell others and embarrass you.

Your daughter? She will probably stay. She will probably quiet down. She will probably stop talking about it.

She will probably minimize what happened in her own mind and minimize it for you, so that her relationship with you can stay intact. Nothing’s worth destroying your relationship with your family, after all. She’s been socialized since birth to provide for men’s comfort and that means comfort of mind as well as body.

You can hear her telling herself: She survived it. It wasn’t that bad.

It’s a much safer bet, to discount her version of events, so that’s your solution. It keeps everything the same. It keeps everybody comfortable. And she stays. And she feels just a little less important to you, and a little less real, because whether you think about it in these terms or not, you’ve demoted her. She was your daughter.

Now she’s just another woman, another wicked female, who you don’t believe.

So when someone who looks just like her goes on the news and tells everyone that a member of a political party you admire and identify with, or a celebrity you like, tried to assault her, hurt her, rape her, you don’t see your daughter.

You see someone who’s trying to do what your daughter tried to do. Upset everybody. Get attention. Get something out of this.

And if you face the facts and say out loud that this didn’t have to happen to this stranger, this girl you don’t know on TV who’s accusing a man who looks and acts just like you, is in politics just like you, if you say out loud that someone should have stood up for her, should have done something?

Then you face the facts and say out loud that this didn’t have to happen to your daughter, and you should have stood up for her. You should have done something.

And oh, then doesn’t the whole nice polite reasonable world come crashing down?

I said back when Trump and Billy Bush were cackling about grabbing women by the pussy that the most insidious person on that bus wasn’t Trump but Billy, because lots of of guys wouldn’t be the bully but they would be the coward who laughed at his jokes.

They wouldn’t react differently if Roy Moore had hurt their daughter. Chances are someone like him already did, and they didn’t believe her.

A.

What is the 7th or 8th Commandment?

Thou shall not steal.

I doubt if they’d accept that answer in the form of a question on Jeopardy but different religious traditions number the Ten Commandments differently. Impressed with my indifferent biblical scholarship? Don’t be. I learned about the 4-4 split on Wikipedia. I like to show off my erudition even when I don’t have any. All I know about the Ten Commandments, I learned from Cecil B. DeMille and that big slab of Kosher ham, Charlton Heston. Kosher ham? I know that’s impossible but he played Moses so…

Now that I’ve blasphemed and shit, it’s time for today’s episode of Grifting For Jesus:

The packages that made their way from Israel and the United Arab Emirates to retail outlets owned by Hobby Lobby, the seller of arts and craft supplies, were clearly marked as tile samples.

But according to a civil complaint filed on Wednesday by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn, they held something far rarer and more valuable: ancient clay cuneiform tablets that had been smuggled into the United States from Iraq.

Prosecutors said in the complaint that Hobby Lobby, whose evangelical Christian owners have long maintained an interest in the biblical Middle East, began in 2009 to assemble a collection of cultural artifacts from the Fertile Crescent. The company went so far as to send its president and an antiquities consultant to the United Arab Emirates to inspect a large number of rare cuneiform tablets — traditional clay slabs with wedge-shaped writing that originated in Mesopotamia thousands of years ago.

In 2010, as a deal for the tablets was being struck, an expert on cultural property law who had been hired by Hobby Lobby warned company executives that the artifacts might have been looted from historical sites in Iraq, and that failing to determine their heritage could break the law.

Despite these words of caution, the prosecutors said, Hobby Lobby bought more than 5,500 artifacts — the tablets and clay talismans and so-called cylinder seals — from an unnamed dealer for $1.6 million in December 2010.

There’s nothing that makes me happier than some psalm-singing Evangelical son of a bitch being caught with their hand in the proverbial cookie jar. Receiving stolen artifacts is a crime against history and, I daresay, the religion the Hobby Lobbyists flaunt or is that flout. This Mesopotamian mess has also inspired a mess of puns. I myself have been Babylon and on…

If you’re an irony fan, the most delicious thing about the Mess in Mesopotamia is that Isis could have been the original sellers. When they’re not destroying or defiling historical artifacts, they’ve been known to sell them to incurious buyers. I guess one could say that fundamentalists of a feather flock together.

I wonder if this puts the kibosh on the proposed bible museum and craft store the Hobby Lobbyists and others of their ilk plan to open at Washington City this fall. I suspect it will go on but there’s going to be some empty space where the stolen artifacts should have been. Perhaps they’ll order up a miracle of some kind. Stay tuned.

Holy Mesopotamian Mess, Batman. It’s what happens when you fail to heed The Ten Commandments of Love:

That concludes this episode of Grifting For Jesus. Dial H for Hypocrisy, pass the collection plate, and play some Genesis:

The Keepers

I approached the Netflix documentary The Keepers with some trepidation. The story is grisly to say the least: a young nun was murdered in 1969 and the perpetrator *may* have been a priest accused of sexually abusing high school girls. It sounded  depressing and like something I’d seen before. I was wrong, In the hands of director Ryan White, The Keepers is more than just a fascinating real-life whodunit, it’s a moving story of survival.

We meet some remarkable people (mostly women) as the 7-part documentary unfolds. They include Sister Cathy Cesnik’s devoted former students Gemma Hoskins and Abbie Schaub who are the most effective real life amateur detectives ever. The central figure of the film is clerical rape survivor Jean Wehner. She’s a brave, feisty woman who was given the runaround by Archdiocese of Baltimore who are still lying about the activities of the demonic priest around whom much of the action revolves: Joseph Maskell.

Because the series is set in Baltimore, comparisons to The Wire are inevitable. They’re also spot-on as Kathryn Van Arendonk points out at Vulture:

When I say that the series is like The Wire, this is a large part of what I mean: The shape of events at Archbishop Keough High School becomes clear through a multiplying, crisscrossing network of individuals with their own personal narratives, telling different pieces of the story from different vantages and wildly diverging interests. In one scene we watch Gemma Hoskins and Abbie Schaub talking about how important it is to find justice for their beloved high-school teacher. In another, we see Jean Wehner struggling to recount her memories of abuse by the school’s chaplain. In yet another, the filmmakers interview Sharon May, who blankly explains why she never brought charges against the school during her time in the district attorney’s office. The total view of what may have happened at Archbishop Keough High School in 1969 only becomes clear from a distance, as an interlocking network of many, many stories.

Ryan White and his team ran down many diverse leads; most of which are plausible but all of which cannot be true. They chose to let the viewers decide. Wise choice. Most of the leads do, however, involve Maskell and the Archdiocese that chose to cover up his crimes. The church was lying about serious issues as recently as 2016. So much for reform.

For those interested in reading more about the people we meet in The Keepers, here are two more links:

The filmmakers seem to have inspired a renewed cold case investigation led by a detective who appears to be sincerely interested in solving the case. But the problem never seemed to be with the police, it was with the Archdiocese and the Baltimore state’s attorneys office. If there was a cover-up, it’s on them and the local political system. Joseph Maskell was not worth protecting: he should have died in prison instead of a church run hospice.

I give The Keepers 4 stars, an Adrastos Grade of A, and an exuberant thumbs up. This was just the sort of documentary that Siskel and Ebert championed when they were still with us. It’s a classic and I don’t say that lightly.

 

Even For Politico This Is So Gross: Happy Easter!

This isn’t how God works: 

President Donald Trump has increasingly infused references to God into his prepared remarks — calling on God to bless all the world after launching strikes in Syria, asking God to bless the newest Supreme Court Justice, invoking the Lord to argue in favor of a war on opioids.

That … isn’t finding religion. It’s finding a sales pitch.

For, let us be clear, war, war and more war.

“I’ve always felt the need to pray,” Trump said in that late-January interview. “The office is so powerful that you need God even more because your decisions are no longer, ‘Gee I’m going to build a building in New York.’ … These are questions of massive, life-and-death.”

FAITH IS NOT FIRE INSURANCE. You do not get to torch the place and be like, “Well, I prayed about it.” This is why I find so much born-again rhetoric bankrupt. There’s no such thing as a clean slate.

“I believe the weight of the office that he now holds and the burden of responsibility that it carries is humbling him somewhat and causing him to acknowledge and admit his reliance on God,” said Darrell Scott, an Ohio pastor who has known Trump for six years and supported Trump’s campaign and served on his transition team.

FAITH IS ALSO NOT A BOOTY CALL. (Says the girl who frequently Sees Other Deities yet winds up outside church with a boombox over her head every December blaring O Come O Come Emanuel, but I’m me, and not the president, and I’ve never claimed to be anything but a sinner who does not expect forgiveness.)

The White House did not respond to questions about whether Trump has been attending church as president, and if he has, it has been without the knowledge of White House pool reporters.

Still, Trump’s frequent invocations of God in his remarks as of late are a change from both his past life as a businessman and his time on the campaign trail.

So he hasn’t been going to church (which, let’s be fair, no more makes you a Christian than pulling into the garage makes you a car), he’s pursued policies of war and suffering and exclusion (which actually SHOULD disqualify you from from the Flock), but he’s USING MOAR JESUS WORDS HERE ARE A THOUSAND POLITICO ANALYSIS THINGS.

I hate our political journalism right now.

A.

The Korematsu Case Revisited

korematsu

I remember very few papers I wrote as a college student. One exception is a paper about the horrific, anti-constitutional internment of the Japanese, including citizens, during World War II. It was an action initiated in panic by a racist Army General but ratified by some distinguished American liberals: President Roosevelt, Attorney General Francis Biddle, Justice Hugo Black, and then California Attorney General Earl Warren. It is a stain on all their memories and on American history. So much so that Congress and President Reagan formally apologized for internment in 1988. That right, Ronald Reagan knew it was wrong. There are ominous signs that the Trumpers do not.

TPM is usually the first political site I look at every morning. One headline was a real eye-opener, the textual equivalent of 2 cups of coffee, Trump Surrogate: Japanese Internment Camps A Precedent For Muslim Registry:

One of Donald Trump surrogate’s claimed Wednesday that the forced internment of Japanese Americans during World War II provided a “precedent” for the next administration creating a registry of Muslims living in the United States.

Carl Higbie, a former Navy SEAL and booster of the President-elect, told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly that such a registry was necessary until “we can identify the true threat” posed by Islamic extremists.

“We have in the past,” Higbie said. “We have done it based on race, we have done it based on religion, we have done it based on region.”

<SNIP>

“It is legal. They say it’ll hold constitutional muster,” Higbie said of the registry. “I know the ACLU is going to challenge us, but I think it’ll pass. And we’ve done it with Iran back a while ago. We did it in World War II with Japanese, which, call it what you will—”

I call it bigotry. That’s what I call it. Targeting a religious minority is also an egregious violation of the First Amendment. I am, however, glad that barking mad Naval Seal mentioned the Bush years. They were not big on the constitution either. It *can* happen here. In fact, it already has.

I have a a few questions. Will the “Muslim registry” apply to citizens? Is this partial payback for Khizr Khan? Trump is capable of such petty vindictiveness, after all. Who’s going to restrain him? Rudy? Kris Kobach? Jared Kushner? Not bloody likely.

Back to the post title. The Supreme Court upheld the Japanese exclusion order in Korematsu v. United States in 1944. Fred Korematsu, an American citizen, was convicted of “violating the civilian exclusion order.” SCOTUS upheld his conviction in an opinion by Justice Hugo Black with three Justices in dissent: Stanley Roberts, Frank Murphy, and Robert Jackson. It was not one of Justice Black’s finest hours but Justice Jackson’s dissent rings true in the wake of the comments by that barking mad Navy Seal:

Korematsu was born on our soil, of parents born in Japan. The Constitution makes him a citizen of the United States by nativity, and a citizen of California by residence. No claim is made that he is not loyal to this country. There is no suggestion that, apart from the matter involved here, he is not law-abiding and well disposed. Korematsu, however, has been convicted of an act not commonly a crime. It consists merely of being present in the state whereof he is a citizen, near the place where he was born, and where all his life he has lived.
<SNIP>
Much is said of the danger to liberty from the Army program for deporting and detaining these citizens of Japanese extraction. But a judicial construction of the due process clause that will sustain this order is a far more subtle blow to liberty than the promulgation of the order itself. A military order, however unconstitutional, is not apt to last longer than the military emergency. Even during that period, a succeeding commander may revoke it all. But once a judicial opinion rationalizes such an order to show that it conforms to the Constitution, or rather rationalizes the Constitution to show that the Constitution sanctions such an order, the Court for all time has validated the principle of racial discrimination in criminal procedure and of transplanting American citizens. The principle then lies about like a loaded weapon, ready for the hand of any authority that can bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need.

I added the bold face for obvious reasons. Korematsu has been discredited but never overruled. It still “lies about like a loaded weapon.” If the Islamophobes have their way, the chamber will be reloaded with their so-called registry. If that happens, all good people should try their damnedest to sign the thing in solidarity with those being oppressed. What’s next? A Yellow Crescent?

Sitting Political Shiva

I started following the Israeli newspaper Haaretz’s Twitter feed during their last general election. As you may recall, the polls were wrong about that one too. An interesting link popped up on their feed:

I posted the tweet because Haaretz recently went behind a paywall with no free stories and Chrome’s incognito feature did not work. Oy, just oy.

I’m an agnostic who was raised Greek-Orthodox but most of my mother’s bridge playing and real estate cronies were Jewish, so I learned about sitting shiva as a child.  I remember going with her to Mrs. Rosenberg’s house when her husband died.  Mrs. Rosenberg was the Holocaust survivor I’ve written about before.  I didn’t even complain about going because Mrs. R and I had a mutual admiration society. She remains one of my heroes. She was also as funny as hell. I’m convinced that I learned the essence of black comedy from her. It’s the Shoah survivor’s ethos: nothing will ever be as bad as what they went through, in her case at Treblinka.

Just in case some of you don’t know what I’m talking about here’s a definition of shiva:

Shiva is the week long period of mourning following a loved one’s death. During this time, family members traditionally gather in one home to receive visitors. The word “shiva” means seven, signifying the seven day mourning period in which mourners are supposed to sit low to the ground.

When I saw the headline, I realized that I had metaphorically sat shiva all day Wednesday. For many of us, Hillary Clinton’s loss felt like a death in the family. If it doesn’t to you, please have some respect for those of us who are mourning. We’re sitting political shiva.

I spent the day trading messages with friends on social media and via text. One close friend works at an oil company and had to deal with triumphant Trumpers. He described the people of color at his firm as looking like they expected deportation or worse at any moment. I cannot blame them. Some of Dr. A’s med students came to her in tears yesterday. That gives me hope for the future of the medical profession.

I checked in with two dear friends in the afternoon. One of whom’s four-year old daughter was upset because the mean man beat the nice lady. It’s a pity that so many so-called grown ups couldn’t see what a child can and elected a goniff. That’s Yiddish for a thief, dishonest person, or scoundrel. That fits the Insult Comedian to a T.

After undergoing First Draft therapy by writing The Fearful Country and sitting virtual political shiva, Dr. A and I attended a Krewe meeting. Most of my Krewe mates looked as if they had slept precious little. I certainly did. Some of us had planned to suggest alternative election related themes but the Krewe wanted to develop a previously discussed theme. And that’s okay. The desire to move on from a trauma is understandable. The non-Krewe business conversation was about the election and how upset everyone was. The d word came up in the conversation: Devastated. The evening was a combination of sitting shiva and an Irish wake.

I sat next to my Spank protege who prefers to call me her Spank daddy. She converted to Judaism when she married. We talked about our mutual horror at how many forms of bigotry had been normalized by the Insult Comedian and his deplorable followers. The previously unspoken has been spoken. Loudly. Anti-Semitism has never left us but it’s back in its most virulent form since the 1940’s. An example of that is this:

That’s right, Kristallnacht took place on November 9-10 in 1938. America just elected a candidate who ran an anti-Semitic campaign. David Duke is celebrating with an exuberant, Heil, Trump. Yet another reason we’re sitting political shiva.

The mood on social media yesterday ranged from solemn to vengeful. The Trumpers were attacking perfect strangers for their supposed imperfections. One friend received hate messages from people who objected to a white chick being married to a black guy. This was deeply upsetting to me as they’re one of the sweetest couples I know. We’re also sitting shiva for the death of civility.

I had to deal with some vestigial Dudebros who wanted to say I told you so. I invited them to a “block party” but have no idea why they decided to crawl out of the woodwork. Actually, I do: everything has been normalized by the electoral college victory of the Insult Comedian. Btw, he’s attacked the electoral college in the past, now he loves it. Typical.

I think that the time for what ifs is down the road. I am skeptical that Sanders would have done better but I’m not certain about that. I do know that the stench of anti-Semitism was all over this election and a septuagenarian Jewish socialist would have felt it as well as incessant red baiting. Shorter Adrastos, I don’t know for sure and neither does anybody else. I am, however, not attacking individuals I disagree with on the internet. It’s called keyboard courage. Instead, I’m sitting political shiva.

My theory of what happened is a simple one. After a bruising primary campaign, Hillary Clinton had a great convention, won the debates, took a solid, steady lead and then came the first Comey letter. It depressed Democratic turnout and she lost the electoral vote but won the popular vote. The election was decided by James Comey, Rudy Giuliani, and the MSM’s sporadic attention to Trump’s scandals with an assist from Wikileaks, Russian intelligence, and the alt-right. Trump’s electoral vote victory has mainstreamed the latter. That’s another reason we’re sitting political shiva.

The Trumpers are already acting vengeful towards their enemies. The cartoon villain’s cartoon lackey, Omarosa, is openly discussing an enemies list. That’s right, a person who’s best known as a hiss-provoking reality show villain will have influence in the next administration. I wonder who will be Propaganda Minister: Bannon or Conway?

The awfulness of this election will endure for the next four years. Tolerance, mutual respect, and common decency were dealt a terrible, but not fatal, blow in 2016. Many of us are still reeling and that’s why we’re sitting political shiva. We need to grieve before we can move on.

The aftermath of this horrendous year and dreadful election result reminds me of what some New Orleanians did on Inauguration Day in 2005. We held a Jazz Funeral for Democracy to mourn Bush’s second term complete with brass bands and a horse-drawn bier. We did not know that disaster would come our way in a mere seven months. Here are two of Dr. A’s pictures of that march through downtown New Orleans:

17542083463_89731019e2

17539881704_f0a0986a64

I hadn’t seen that Flickr photo album for years. The second picture made me smile. The gent in the top hat and tails is-not Fred Astaire-my old friend Bob Smith. He’s more likely to be seen in a kilt now but I know he’s grieving over what happened this week. We all mourn the passing of someone/something special in our own way: from jazz funerals to demonstrations to wakes to sitting shiva. Me, I’m sitting political shiva this week.

Back to the Jazz Funeral for Democracy. 2016 is one of the worst years in our nation’s history but so was 2005. Remember, we elected Barack Obama four years after Bush narrowly defeated John Kerry. We as a people should not have to go through this but we do. And that is why this gentile is sitting political shiva.

A fart in church

One of the best parts about writing for this blog is the diversity of thought and experience of the readership. That’s not me blowing smoke. It’s true. I have found that I learned a lot about my own position on this big blue rock from hearing of the positions of others here than I learned anywhere else. Agreement, disagreement, whatever. It comes down to people coming at an idea I have from a variety of angles.

Never more is this true than in the field of religion, where not only do people come from various faiths, but various positions on faith, spirituality, organized religion and other “not for me, but do what you dig” ideologies. So this piece isn’t as much about me offering thought as me asking for the sounding board to bounce thoughts to me.

I spent a dozen years in Catholic school and remain a semi-regular participant in the ritual that is Saturday/Sunday mass. My kid is in Year Six of the schooling and gets more of that at home from my mother-in-law, who spent her whole life as an educator of the faith and a pretty “hardline Catholic” (if such a thing exists). My parents are active in the church back home: Dad’s an usher, Mom does the readings. They still attend the same church they got married in almost 50 years ago.

So that’s the set up for what happened two weeks ago as I took Mom to church on a Saturday afternoon when I was in town for our other religious ritual: The monthly baseball card show.

The new priest we got (we seem to be going through them at a fairly brisk pace) isn’t the world’s most likeable man. He met me for the first time about a month ago and noticed that I had lost a lot of hair as he had at some point in his life. “I like your haircut,” he said as he laughed.

Thanks, Father.

The bigger “problem” is that the man is hearing impaired, which makes him difficult to understand. To that end, he has his own personal deacon who does a lot of the talking for him, including the homily.

For those uninitiated in the faith, a deacon is a layman (all men still. My faith needs to grow up.) who serves as kind of a “caddy” for the priest. I’m sure some of them are decent people, but I’ve yet to meet one. My experience with deacons is that they are power-hungry, self-important assholes who believe that God has chosen them to fill the role. This man is like an Alpha Deacon in that regard. He has created rules that prohibit church members from approaching the altar during certain parts of the mass. He forbids readers to sit up front, which means they have to walk up to do the reading, walk back after the reading and then walk back to do the second reading. All of this makes no sense, as most readers are in their 70s and are lucky to be walking at all.

Above all else, however, this guy has that “presence” about him: Holier-than-thou. Smug. A Chosen One. He also looks like Ben from the Dilbert cartoons.

silverhair

So all of this conspired to let the priest give Deacon Dickhead the mic for the homily at mass two weeks ago.

My mother kind of captured my thoughts on what the homily should be for me: “I go there to feel better,” she said. “I want something that makes me feel inspired or at least like I shouldn’t feel bad about something that is happening in my life.”

I agree. Even if it’s a little more toward the fire-and-brimstone side, it can be helpful and inspiration.

The readings were good ones: Moses holding up his arms with the staff of God helps his people win a battle, but as he grew tired, his arms fell. When his arms fell, the opposition had the better of the battle. Thus, two guys gave him a place to sit and held up his arms for him. The Gospel was similarly about getting by with a little help from your friends. (I don’t complicate my faith, I guess…) Thus, I’m looking forward to a good bit of preaching, even given this guy’s limited capabilities.

Instead, I got a political lesson.

The guy got up there and started talking about the election and how neither candidate was good, but one of them was going to make it easier for people to get abortions and we can’t have that. He told some story about Hillary Clinton not clapping for Mother Theresa. He then told this “real story” about a guy who died:

A guy feels sick and goes to the doctor. He finds out he has a virulent strain of cancer that despite every effort, he can’t overcome.

He dies and meets God. “God,” he says. “Why do we have something horrible like cancer? Why can’t you send us a cure for cancer?”

“My child,” God replies. “I did send you a cure for cancer. But she was aborted because her mother wanted a boy.”

At the end of this horseshit, people broke out in applause.

In church.

During mass.

Did I mention we’re Catholic, where we don’t pretty much get jacked up about anything during church?

I could feel my field of vision narrowing and my head pounding as I saw a woman two pews up clapping like it was a Trump rally. I looked over at my mother who was just silent, so I had a hard time getting a feel from her about this.

When communion came (or as my kid once noted, “That time where you go up and get a cookie from the priest), Deacon Dickhead was running my line. I was torn between three actions:

  1. Stay put, take the thing, don’t embarrass mom
  2. Cut across the aisle to the other line, likely create a small scene, but feel better
  3. Stay put and when he says, “Body of Christ” respond with “Fuck you you fucking fuck” and then take a swing at the guy. Larger scene, but probably worth it once in a lifetime.

I went with the first one because it was my parents’ church and I didn’t want to bring shame on the family. I did the perfectly Catholic thing: I sucked it up and took it. At the end of mass, the priest made a point of complimenting the deacon and people applauded again. I wanted to tell them both to fuck off and die. I remained politely Catholic.

On the way to the car, I began with the “So…” line, only to have my mother start railing against this like she was Regan in “The Exorcist.” Certain words don’t sound natural coming out of the mouth of a 70-year-old woman on her way out of church.

Mom found them all.

It got so bad, she forced my father to avoid that topic of discussion at dinner, a meal that was accompanied by a big jolt of wine.

I spent the rest of that week bitching up a storm in my head. Separation of Church and State. Self-righteous prick. Use open records and FOIA the shit out of everything he ever did and hope he had a sexual rap battle with Ken Bone.

I still don’t know why this is eating at me so much. It’s not like the church ever would be in the “Do what you do, just don’t get any on me” kind of thing when it came to anything sex-based. I never imagined my faith to be OK with life not beginning when a man unhooked the woman’s bra. What is it about this one speech that really pissed me off?

Part of it was the messenger, I’m sure. I dislike people who enjoy talking the talk but have never been forced to walk the walk. I also dislike people who cling to false stereotypes of people that serve as strawmen for their bullshit. I REALLY don’t like bullies and this guy is one of those as well. He’s basically an asshole fondue of everything I hate, so I get that.

Part of it was the venue. When I’m watching a baseball game and I get a commercial for Trump or Ron Johnson or Viagra (all equally helpful in getting old angry white guys hard), I’m not thrilled, but it comes with the territory. I also know that my faith tells me God is supposed to be everywhere, and if you watched the ALCS, you know he’s with me when the Indians are playing. Still, when I’m in His house, I’m not watching commercials on my phone, so I’m thinking I’m safe from this shit.

Maybe there’s another part of me that has allowed me to kind of compartmentalize my faith into areas of agreement and areas I ignore. When I’m forced to confront those things I like to keep in the trunk of the car, it really irritates me. I don’t know.

What I do know is that for all the trouble this faith is having in keeping people engaged, pissing off one of the few people in that joint under the age of 70 isn’t a great idea.

Thus, I leave you with the questions that have bothered me: Is this a big deal? Am I overreacting? What should I do?

On Mandatory Miscarriage Funerals

For my own sanity, I’ve been staying OUT of this election so far. I just don’t have the mental bandwidth to deal with this shit show. So last night when I stopped into the crack van (just to say hi, I wasn’t watching the debate) was the first I’d heard of Mike Pence’s stance on mandatory funerals for miscarried fetuses. Horrified, I mentioned a story then that I didn’t want to take over the crack van to explain, but I’ll tell it now.

I went to Catholic high school during the early 2000s. George W Bush was newly-elected President, and this asswipe was the bishop of the diocese. Catholic values, as they were being taught to me, were basically “the gays are going to hell” and some combination of “if you have sex before you get married you’re going to get pregnant immediately and go to hell” and “if you abort that pregnancy so we can’t tell you had sex before you got married, you’re also going to hell”. There was no compassion, there was no understanding, there was just a lot of if you have lady parts you are a Bad Person.

Well, a friend and classmate of mine, Amy (not her real name), behaved like a normal 17-year-old and had sex with her serious boyfriend. She got pregnant, and because of all of this “no sex, also abortion is bad” bullshit, she starved herself for a month until she miscarried. The religion teacher got wind of this and suddenly “also miscarriage means you’re bad” made its way into the curriculum, along with not-so-subtle hints that naming the miscarried baby and giving it a funeral would make you right with God.

So she did, and maybe it made her right with God, but I don’t think she’ll ever be right with herself again. The last time I heard any news about her, we were 24 and she had four children by two different fathers and was still mourning her high school self-induced miscarriage.

Miscarriage funerals can be very important, positive points of closure for hopeful parents, and I don’t mean to say that they are inherently awful. But forcing a formerly-pregnant person to wallow in that if they just want to move on with their life is… abhorrent when it comes from the Church, and completely fucking unacceptable when it comes from the State.

All in all, I’m thinking it was a good call for my sanity that I checked out of this election process ages ago. I’m gonna go vote early for Secretary Clinton tonight and then crawl back under my rock, thank you very much.

Tagged

Trump Lives in Our America

This is a sitting governor, guys, so talk to me some more about how Trump is such an outlier. 

“I want us to be able to fight ideologically, mentally, spiritually, economically, so that we don’t have to do it physically,” the tea party politician said in a Saturday speech at the Values Voters Summit, an annual gathering of religious conservatives. “But that may, in fact, be the case.”

Bevin said he was asked in a recent if the nation could “survive” a Clinton presidency, and he responded that it would be “possible” but at a great “price.”

“The roots of the tree of liberty are watered by what?” Bevin continued. “The blood, of who? The tyrants to be sure, but who else? The patriots. Whose blood will be shed? It may be that of those in this room. It might be that of our children and grandchildren.”

I keep seeing these idiot headlines about how we’re now living in “Trump’s America” or some crap, like this just happened, like this is new. For fuck’s sake, Republicans have been calling Democrats traitors since at least 9/11 if not the 1930s. Before the Creeping Sharia Menace and the Secret Muslim Infiltration it was the Russkies and the Commies and the Reds that Real Americans were gonna have to rise up against with full fanfare and drama.

Other Real Americans, natch, not people like this.

People rightly said when the Tea Party came around that this is where Republicans have been going for years, just louder and dumber, and we were all either ignored or ridiculed. People rightly said, when Sarah Palin was nominated as VP, that this was not just a problem with one halfbright woman, that her elevation was indicative of some pretty serious weaknesses in structure and values, and they were ignored or ridiculed.

And now we have GOP presidential nominee Trump and sitting governors of entire states calling for armed insurrection if we elect a pretty middle-of-the-road, frankly kind of boring conventional politician who will probably not change anything very profoundly. And everyone acts like that’s just a low pressure system moving in, like that’s just the weather and the way the earth turns.

America didn’t just “turn into” Trump’s America. It didn’t “become” this way all on its own. People did this to it, and other people ignored it, or went along because the numbers favored it that day, or decided they couldn’t be bothered or risk looking like dirty hippies. A thousand little decisions were made by actual people every single day and if you don’t listen to those saying hey, that and that and that and that are not going to add up to anything good, you don’t get to bitch at the rise of Cheeto Jesus and pretend you didn’t see it coming.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Domino

domino players

Domino Players by Roald Schotborgh. Via Curacao-art.com.

It was diabolically hot last month in New Orleans: the hottest July in recorded history. August has followed suit thus far. What can a poor boy do? Huddle in my study, which is the smallest room in our house, and luxuriate in the air-dish and ceiling fan. We’re all big fan fans here in the Big Sweaty, especially when it’s not fit for man or beast outside in the heat. That’s life in the big city, y’all.

I’m not into to the whole Pokemon Go thing but many people are. So much so that a guerilla artist put a fiberglass statue of Pikachu at Coliseum Square here in New Orleans. My friend Jessica tweeted about it:

It’s a great picture. I’ll just have to forgive her for all the vexatious exclamation points. Twitter makes many people excitable. In my case, it tends to make me irritable, but what do I know from Pokemon? I never played the original game unless it was Pikachu peek-a-boo or some such shit.

I bent my rules with this week’s theme songs. I’m using different songs with the same title but they’re by artists, Squeeze and Van Morrison, I’ve already featured on the Saturday post. I make no apologies because they fit one of my themes of the week. Every time a prominent Republican says they’re voting for Hillary Clinton I say:  Another domino tumbles.

We’ll begin with Squeeze since Chris Difford’s lyrics use the image of falling dominoes to make the song’s point:

Now that we’ve gone “down like a domino,” it’s time for some free-association word play from Van the Man:

Van just wants to hear some rhythm and blues music on on on the radio. Who can argue with that? If you care to, let’s duke it out after the break.

Continue reading

Wingnut vs. Wingnut

I cannot believe I’m about to praise Senator Mike Lee (R-LDS) but there’s a first time for everything. Why? He’s been out-wingnutted by some dipshit NewsMax teevee yakker:

“Hey look, Steve, I get it. You want me to endorse Trump,” Lee (R-Utah) told NewsMaxTV host Steve Malzberg. “We can get into that if you want. We can get into the fact that he accused my best friend’s father of conspiring to kill JFK. We can go through the fact that he’s made statements that some have identified correctly as religiously intolerant. We can get into the fact that he’s wildly unpopular in my state, in part because my state consists of people who are members of a religious minority church. A people who were ordered exterminated by the governor of Missouri in 1838. And, statements like that make them nervous.”

<SNIP>

The host pointed specifically to Trump’s insinuation that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father was somehow involved in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy as relatively trivial in comparison to Clinton’s scandals, but Lee didn’t see it that way.

“Right, right. He said that. He actually said that. He said that without any scintilla, without a scintilla of evidence. Now that concerns me,” Lee said.

Lee ritualistically said he could not vote for Hillary Clinton but the notion that accusing someone of being party to the Kennedy assassination is “relatively trivial” is obscene. I’m no fan of Tailgunner Ted or his nutbar factor-10 father but that’s a serious accusation. It’s a crime against American history to casually drag anyone into the event that changed the country forever. Apparently, Hillary’s email and Vincent Foster’s death are more important than the murder of a President.

In addition to praising Mike Lee, on this matter and this matter only, I’d like to offer some rare praise for the Mormon Church and its members. They have been consistently hostile to the Insult Comedian’s inflammatory comments on immigration and minority religious sects. It’s good to see that someone in what Gore Vidal famously called the United States of Amnesia has some historical memory. Persecution of one religious minority can easily turn into persecution of others.

Praising Mike Lee and the LDS church brings to mind that old expression “even a blind pig finds an acorn every once in awhile.” Why they would want to do such a thing remains mysterious to me but I am not well-versed in rural ways. So it goes.

A Place to Rest in Their Own Damn Country

We are unkind, right now: 

There are relatively few dedicated Muslim cemeteries around the country, so many Muslim communities use sections of other cemeteries to bury their dead.

In Dudley, the proposal from the Islamic Society of Greater Worcester has been met with angry comments at local meetings.

“You want a Muslim cemetery? Fine. Put it in your backyard, not mine,” Daniel Grazulis said during a zoning meeting in February, drawing a round of applause.

Jason Talerman, a lawyer for the Islamic Society, said he believes the opposition is rooted in Islamophobia.

“They like to say it under the guise of, ‘Oh, we’re just trying to protect our water supply,’ but it’s thinly veiled,” he said.

Desiree Moninski, who lives across the street from the site, once farmed by her grandparents, said she and other opponents have legitimate concerns that have nothing to do with Islam.

“I grew up here. It’s farmland, and I’d like to see it stay that way,” she said.

How do you get so broken that y0u would deny the dead a resting place because … seriously, what do you think, that when the vampires all rise up the Muslim ones will be more dangerous than WASP Nosferatu? Like they’ll be terrorist dead bodies? FFS. What do you get out of yelling at a town meeting about something like this?

A.

On Fighting For Those Who Fight Against You

Charlie: 

Before beginning, and in fairness to the good people of Menomonie, Wisconsin, whose voting record we examined earlier Tuesday afternoon, let us remember that Texas is the home office for climate denialists among our elected representatives.

It begins at the top with Tailgunner Ted Cruz, who’s been spouting the stupid on this subject heavily for the last few weeks. It runs down through Governor Greg Abbott and indicted attorney general Ken Paxton. And it runs deeply through the Texas congressional delegation, which includes some leading intellectual giants like Lamar Smith and Louie Gohmert, although, to be fair to those other worthies, Gohmert doesn’t know much about anything, so it’s almost unfair to include him here.

I mention this only because Houston is about to turn into a really bad Kevin Costner film and the climate crisis is one of the main reasons why.

And so fucking what? Look, this Vox piece was a load of false-equivalence crap, so stop acting it out by yelling I Told You So before people are even dried off. The people who already believe you don’t need the reminder and the people who don’t aren’t reading you anyway.

These are pretty typical comments when it comes to federal aid for Houston and its environs: 

Can we please ask the Federal Government – in the form of one specific person, teh Communist Muslim Overlord – to say yes to Texas …. as long as they ask on the White House lawn in front of the full array of tv cameras and it must run as the head story on a certain ‘news’ program?

Just for once can we rub their noses in it?


Wait, can’t you just shoot the flood with your concealed handgun?


Karma. It’s a bitch.


Ideally, authorizations for these monies should be at the periodic discretion of the President, as chief executive, as to whether it is needed.

The next election will be held Tuesday 8 Nov 2016. Said authorisations should be arranged so they ALL go up to the President Nov 9 or 10. And those places plumping for Republicans (the Party of Small Government) should get all aid cut until 20 Jan 2017, when the new President can do as he or she wants.

I get it.

America is hard to love right now.

Three out of every ten of us who vote are going to vote for Donald Trump. Four of every ten of us haven’t quite cottoned to the idea of women or gay people being citizens under the law, and people are spending lots of time figuring out how to assure themselves that they are in charge of where men and women go to the bathroom. Like, lots of time. The space race took up fewer mental meters than this bathroom crap does.

Thanks to the Internet, we now see that our racist uncle is everybody’s racist uncle, and thanks to news organizations thinking they are just Internets and have to tell us what our racist uncle thinks, too, we hear so much hate all day long. That Vox trash fire wasn’t wrong about the ease of seeing loathing. We see every dumbass meme about Obama killing jobs by forcing people to buy different light bulbs and we see the comments applauding those dumbass memes. What of the news we’re forced to watch in doctors’ offices or wherever is pretty stupid. It’s like the point in your family Christmas party where everybody’s drunk is always going on.

Hard to love that. So, so hard.

GRIT YOUR DAMN TEETH, AND DO IT ANYWAY.

Because: What is the alternative?

I guess we could stop voting. I guess we could stop calling and writing and working and campaigning. I guess we could pretend we know who everybody in Houston voted for, or maybe check their records, before we tow their cars out of the floodwaters. I guess we could repeal Obamacare for the red states, because to hell with those people anyway, right? I guess we could withdraw all federal services from states whose governors seem to hate the federal government, and teach those people a lesson.

I guess at a certain point we could give up even thinking about this crap, and watch TV. It’s been a rough, punishing 6 months and all I do is work. I would like to watch TV.

It’s Sunday morning. Love your enemies. Do good to those who persecute you.

Moreover: Do good to those who persecute themselves, for no damn good reason other than screw some imagined minority somewhere, or they can’t be bothered to find out that the ACA and Obamacare are the same thing, or they don’t see a point to voting because THE SYSTEM MAN, or they are just stone-ass dumb and mad. Do good to those who persecute you unless they tell you to go away was not part of the deal.

You want to tell me that a sick baby born in Alabama tomorrow to a couple of poor 15-year-olds bears any responsibility for the state’s shitbag governor? I want that baby to live and be fed and be happy and that baby dying sick and poor does absolutely nothing to change who holds the House of Representatives.

You know what would? Some actual goddamn Democratic money being put into every single legislative district race where Republicans run unopposed year after year after year. Yeah, probably futile and why bother. Because the sick baby, that’s why.

Does America deserve America’s help right now? Probably not. We are a shithead country at the moment. We are full of jerks. But that doesn’t get better if two thirds of us shake our heads and go home because we’re tired. I have news for us all: Not working doesn’t make us any less tired. It just makes us tired, and powerless.

What’s in front of us? A presidential election in which our choices are almost certainly a fairly conservative mainstream politician and ONE OF TWO COMPLETE LUNATICS. In the meantime there will be fires and floods and disasters natural and unnatural, and sick babies and poor kids who need food, and we are not asking how anybody voted before we address any of that. America is hard to love right now.

What’s the alternative?

A.

 

Today on Tommy T’s obsession with the Freeperati – an Oi for an Oi edition

Every time I think The Darnold can’t get any stupider – every freaking time – he proves me wrong.

The bar is officially on the ground now, and can be lowered no further.

Witness – Eye Yi Yi !

Trump’s favorite Bible teaching: “An eye for an eye,” of course

Trump’s favorite Bible teaching: “An eye for an eye,” of course
Hot Air ^ | April 14, 2016 | Allahpundit

Posted on ‎4‎/‎14‎/‎2016‎ ‎1‎:‎16‎:‎18‎ ‎PM by C19fan

Via BuzzFeed, I’m going to be bold and pronounce this the single Trumpiest thing he’s said since the campaign began. Really! Trumpier than him goofing on McCain for being taken prisoner in Vietnam, Trumpier than him goofing on his fans by claiming they’d stick with him even if he shot someone in broad daylight. I’m a lapsed Catholic turned nonbeliever so I’ll let the faithful among our readers correct me, but isn’t this … one of the worst possible answers that a Christian could give to this question?

An “eye for an eye” does appear in the Bible, true, but it’s Old Testament; it was specifically repudiated by Jesus himself in the gospel of Matthew in favor of “turn the other cheek,” as John McCormack notes. The whole point of Christianity, I thought, is to resist vengeance and embrace forgiveness, and it’s captured nowhere more succinctly than in the rejection of “an eye for an eye.”

So here’s Trump, who’s been half-heartedly pandering to evangelicals since last summer, deciding that the lesson from the Bible that sticks with him is the one about, um, revanchism, which Jesus instructed his disciplines to ignore. It’s like naming Baal your favorite member of the holy trinity.

1 posted on 4‎/‎14‎/‎2016‎ ‎1‎:‎16‎:‎18‎ ‎PM by C19fan
JawDrop
.
Let’s see :
Freeper (more often than not) = evangelistic Christian. The “holier than thou” wars at Freeperville have been going on since I started observing them, and show no signs of letting up.
.
Also:
Freeper (overwhelming majority) = Trump-humper.
Are these two trains on a collision course in this thread?
CrushTrains
.
To: C19fan

 

Is that in Four Corinthians or Two Exodus?

2 posted on 4‎/‎14‎/‎2016‎ ‎1‎:‎18‎:‎49‎ ‎PM by nickcarraway

“mkjessup” (whose namesake went to military prison for the rest of his natural life, if I recall correctly) is here to quote from the Gospel Of Charlie Daniels :
To: C19fan

 

From the book of Daniels, CHARLIE Daniels …

“Well, you know what’s wrong with the world today
People done gone and put their Bibles away
They’re living by the law of the jungle not the law of the land
The Good Book says it so I know it’s the truth
An eye for and eye and a tooth for a tooth
You better watch where you go and remember where you been
That’s the way I see it I’m a Simple Man.”

WORKS FOR ME.

3 posted on 4‎/‎14‎/‎2016‎ ‎1‎:‎19‎:‎22‎ ‎PM by mkjessup (The GOPe IS the “Enemy Within” !!)

“Simple” doesn’t even begin to cover it.  “Drooling Moron” comes closer.

 

To: nickcarraway

Is that in Four Corinthians or Two Exodus?

It’s from St. Donald’s letter to the Coloradans.

4 posted on 4‎/‎14‎/‎2016‎ ‎1‎:‎20‎:‎22‎ ‎PM by DoodleDawg

.

 

To: dragnet2

 

Mock Cruz and his faith all you want, but Trump’s favorite verse of what to do is where Jesus is telling us not to do. Obviously, Trump has no understanding of the context.

33 posted on ‎4‎/‎14‎/‎2016‎ ‎1‎:‎46‎:‎13‎ ‎PM by 5thGenTexan

To: C19fan

 

That is at least from scripture, and not some bogus prophecy from a cult.

11 posted on 4‎/‎14‎/‎2016‎ ‎1‎:‎22‎:‎55‎ ‎PM by Psalm 144 (What are mere facts to a Dominionist Constitutionalist, small government-globalist tool?)

Uh oh.  Here we go!
To: 5thGenTexan
Mock Cruz and his faith all you want, 

At least Trump refers to the bible rather than pushing some Seven Mountains Dominionist garbage that Terd Snuz believes in.

49 posted on 4‎/‎14‎/‎2016‎ ‎2‎:‎07‎:‎16‎ ‎PM by The Iceman Cometh (Ted Cruz polls great with young females, or is it he likes young females on a pole….I get confused)
What did I tell ya?
More after the boilers explode…

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Malaka Of The Week: John Milkovich (Not Malkovich)

38aJohn_Malkovich_at_a_screening_of_-Casanova_Variations-_in_January_2015

They say that great minds think alike, so do twisted minds. Michael F and I came up with similar ideas yesterday: to mock the same Gret Stet legislator today. When I first saw his piece I thought I’d *accidentally* posted but then I noticed the title: Being John Milkovich. I considering scrapping this malaka of the week post but since it was 75% complete, I decided to issue whatever the hell this is: an introduction or disclaimer? Beats the hell outta me. Let’s get on with it:

Many state legislatures have been bringing the big stupid of late; come on down, North Carolina. I guess the Gret Stet lege got so jealous that they just had to join in on the fun. And that is why Louisiana State Senator John Milkovich (Not Malkovich) of Shreveport is malaka of the week.

I must confess that the similarity between the State Senator’s name and that of actor John Malkovich is one reason Milkovich is this week’s “honoree.” The other is that Milkovich (Not Malkovich) said something really stupid. I’ll let my pal Lamar White explain what happened when one of Milkovich’s colleagues proposed a bill to repeal a 1987 creationism  bill that was ruled unconstitutional years ago:

Newly-elected State Sen. John Milkovich, like Sen. Claitor, is also an attorney, except that, as he revealed today, he lacks a basic understanding of the law and science education, the only two things he should have familiarized himself with before debating a law about science education. Curiously, he seemed completely unfamiliar with the Louisiana Science Education Act.

<SNIP>

Sen. Milkovich wasn’t done yet, though. He wanted Sen. Claitor to know that science actually agreed with new earth creationism, and he rattled off a list of talking points that seemed memorized from Discovery Institute flash cards. Hadn’t Sen. Claitor heard about the discovery of Noah’s Ark? Apparently, they’re not receiving the same chain e-mails. And what about all of the “new scientific discoveries” that proved the Genesis account of new earth creationism? Sen. Milkovich asked.

“In fact, scientific research and developments and advances in the last 100 years, particularly in the last fifty, twenty, ten years have validated the Biblical story of creation by archeological discoveries of civilizations in the Mideast that secularists said did not exist and further archeological research determines are true. There’s some published research that an ark or large boat was found on the top of Mount Ararat and then in addition the point of the notion of instantaneous creation has been validated by the scientific study of heliocentric circles in rocks, which is consistent with an instantaneous…. I’m guess I’m asking this,” Sen. Milkovich concludes, “are you aware that there is an abundance of recent science that actually confirms the Genesis account of creation?”

I wonder which movie Noah Sen. Milkovich (Not Malkovich) prefers: John Huston or Russell Crowe? As a classic film buff, I’d go with Walter’s son/Anjelica’s daddy-o:

Huston-Bible

We in the Gret Stet of Louisiana have been laboring for many years under a variety of moronic laws that purport to protect us from heathen science and the Darwinian anti-Christ. It has been the source of considerable embarrassment and, more importantly, costly litigation. I wish these bible-thumping bozos would come up with a pie-in-the-sky-god fundamentalist explanation of climate change since they refuse to believe that it’s man-made. Now *that* would be constructive.

Back to State Senator John Milkovich (Not Malkovich.) I’d never heard of him until this week and hope NOT to hear much more of him in the future, especially since he’s a Democrat. As the kids say I’m SMH. I mostly followed in Michael F’s wake to milk the whole Milkovich (Not Malkovich) joke within an inch of its life. I guess you could call it flogging a dead milk cow as opposed to a beating a dead horse, either qualifies as malakatude. I, for one, would rather not be inside the head of a guy who believes in the Noah’s Ark fairy tale.

The Zombie-Picayune has video of Malaka Milkovich’s (Not Malkovich) remarkable exchange with State Senator Dan Claitor:

The worst thing about people like Malaka Milkovich (Not Malkovich) is their need to paint a scientific gloss on their religious beliefs. It’s a cynical way of skirting Supreme Court establishment clause cases in order to teach children this hokum or is that harum scarum? There’s so much of this nonsense out there that I’m proud to be an agnostic, atheist, or whatever the hell I am. This rank hypocrisy is why Louisiana State Senator John Milkovich (Not Malkovich) is malaka of the week.

I’ll give Nick Lowe and his Jumbo Ark the last word:

SATURDAY ODDS & SODS: SKATING AWAY ON THE THIN ICE OF A NEW DAY

7vopkBR

Medieval Killer Rabbits and Snail-monk via The Poke.

Spring has sprung in New Orleans at last after a brief cold snap. I should say cool snap because the lows were in the mid-forties but that’s chilly for us in March. We ran the AC one day and the heater two days later as we rode on the NOLA weather rollercoaster. So it goes.

The Fox network was in town on Palm Sunday. They filmed a half-assed modern musical version of the Passion Play complete with crappy recent pop songs. I didn’t go downtown to gawk and have only watched thirty minutes of The Passion, but it’s a stinker. It did, however, attract something of a sideshow as the procession weaved through the streets of the Quarter. Anyone shocked? I thought not. Here’s how Advocate music writer Keith Spera described one heckler/riffer who lacked the wit of Tom Servo or Croooow:

Turning onto Canal Street, the procession encountered an interloper who was clearly not an angelic host. He wore red devil horns and pulled a wagon with a boom box. Gyrating provocatively, he was intent on making a nuisance and/or spectacle of himself by mocking the march. The dancing devil tried to pull his wagon into the procession; a police officer quickly shooed him back to the sidewalk. Undeterred, he donned a kitschy cape bearing an image of Jesus.

He stopped to film himself writhing in front of the Golden Wall Chinese restaurant — and dropped his camera phone. The case shattered on the pavement.

 Divine retribution, some might say.
That’s not what I’d say, I might go Ray Charles on their asses though:

One good thing about the unintentional comedy that came to town is that it put me in a Jethro Tull frame of mind. Ian Anderson is well-known as a religious skeptic but Tull recorded an album called-you guessed it-A Passion Play during the heyday of prog-rock. I hadn’t heard it for years but enjoyed it when I gave it a spin last week:

Not only was Tull’s A Passion Play, uh, passionate; it has a storytime-style segment about non-lethal rabbits, hares, what have you. Here’s the video they used in concert way back in 1973:

I hope the poor bastard found his spectacles without making a spectacle of himself.

It just occurred to me that the makers of the 1933 Hollywood version of Alice In Wonderland missed a pun opportunity by not casting Fredric as the March Hare. Perhaps they were worried that he’d show up for work as Mr. Hyde but if that were the case he could have been renamed the March Hyde.

The March Hyde

The Story of the Hare Who Lost His Spectacles is NOT this week’s theme song. That dubious honor goes to a tune from the very next Tull LP, War Child. Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of A New Day has an insidiously catchy melody and also features a seasonally appropriate reference to a rabbit on the run. At some of their live shows, some poor bloke was obliged to dress up in a bunny outfit and scamper across the stage. The version below is bunny-free, alas. I asked the March Hare to show up since it’s March but he/she/it declined while muttering something about March madness. Fucking lazy fictional bunny.                    

Speaking of rabbits, I’ve always been somewhat baffled by the merger of pagan fertility rites with Easter. It’s part and parcel of our habit of “secularizing” even the most solemn religious holidays. Easter is about a crucifixion, not Cadbury Creme Eggs although I prefer the latter to the former. I have sensitive hands, y’all. Better still are a local delicacy, Elmer’s Gold Brick Eggs, which are all chocolaty and pecanny. They used to be made on Magazine Street not far from Adrastos World HQ. It filled the air with lovely aromas, which beat the hell out of stale beer and bus exhaust fumes. Elmer Chocolate, however, moved to the burbs quite some time ago. So it goes.

Since this has been Mott the Hoople week here at First Draft, let’s roll away the stone before the break:

Continue reading

Worse Things Than Poetry

I went looking for this, this week, for a friend, and it seemed to apply to this holiday: 

At the end of the line, where enjambment sings: zero’s the number of the Fool, the shape of the storm. It’s the beginning and the end, depending on where you start counting. It goes around and around … God has to wear masks because you’re not prepared for a faceful of infinity, but that’s not the secret. The secret is: how many masks.

The “war on Christmas” nonsense makes me tired.

Not outraged. Not angry. Not defensive. Tired.

I am not interested in defending Christmas from some imaginary angry force, or help the imaginary angry force make its case. I am not willing to mount a defense that says Jesus was really really really born on December 25 (does anyone other than the most pedantic college sophomore give a shit?) and the Three Wise Men were three and wise and men and followed a star and are we seriously genuinely … like, talk about missing the point.

I am not invested in proving my right to eat frosted cookies for lunch and hang out with my family for a few days. I am not interested in making factual arguments about lighting candles in the early dark, and singing carols against the cold, because it’s indefensible. It’s MAD. It’s absurd, holding the darkness at bay with a spiral-cut ham and mulled wine. You might as well meet a tank division on the battlefield with knitting needles. You might as well try to dance away a nuclear bomb.

But you tell me what else there is to do. You tell me the harm, in one day. In one, silent, night. In one goddamn 24-hour period devoted not to misery and rage but to peace. God, we give ourselves so little time to breathe these days. We give ourselves so little rest. We harry each other through the days, picking at this or that or the other thing, always always always. There is always something wrong. Something lost. Something cold and lacking.

Hear, in this story, a plea for understanding, for a moment’s rest: A poor family, traveling, going from place to place, asking for room. Asking people see behind their masks. Behind their poverty, their choices, their fear. See God in us, see a miracle in our child to be born, and see your own need for a quiet place, even if it’s in stable.

See who we are and why we’re here. Is there ever any other question, any other request? Aren’t we all behind our masks, asking one another for recognition? On this silent night, can we declare a truce, and say that even if it’s only poetry. it’s poetry?

People have died for poetry. For less than poetry. For cheaper, smaller things than the story we tell ourselves today, of God behind a mask, visible only to those with nothing in the way of their vision. People have died for worse poetry than that. That’s worth a holiday. Especially one of grace from unlikely beginnings and hope in dark times.

That’s worth a lit candle after all.

A.

The Fog Of Historical Pictures: Headline News Edition

Donald Trump’s attack on a single religious group is nothing new in American history. Today it’s Muslims. but yahoos, peckerwoods, and xenophobes have attacked other religions in the past. Between 1911-1920, there was a virulently anti-Catholic newspaper based in Aurora, MO called The Menace. It stridently opposed Catholicism, which it characterized as a sort of satanic cult that was out to destroy the American way. The editors and contributors styled themselves as constitutionalists. Sound familiar?

The newspaper went out of business in 1920, but the KKK carried on its work during that decade. That’s right, the Klan was as obsessed with Catholics as with Blacks and Jews at that point in time. Irish Catholic New York Governor Al Smith lost the 1928 Presidential election in part because of a tidal wave of “anti-Papist” prejudice. Yokels in some benighted localities believed that the Pope would move into the White House if Smith was elected. Why? I’ll never know. He had much swankier digs at the Vatican, after all.

Back to the Aurora Menace. Here are two typical front-pages:

la-la-na-menace02

la-la-na-menace04

Note one of the headlines on the second picture: Popery vs. Constitutionalism. All you have to do is substitute Islam and you’re transported to 2015. So much for progress. The French have an aphorism for this: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Today On Bad Idea Theatre: Pope Frank & Yelp For People

We begin with the first major gaffe of  Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s papacy. Here’s Charlie Pierce’s hot take on it:

The big news today seems to be that Kim Davis, the goldbricking county clerk from Kentucky, met secretly with Papa Francesco in Washington and that he endorsed her current status as a faith-based layabout. Given this pope’s deft gift for strategic ambiguity and shrewd public relations, it’s hard for me to understand how he could commit such a hamhanded blunder as picking a side in this fight. And it’s odd that he (or someone) sought to publicize it through an American media entity that is not wholly sympathetic to his papacy. Inside The Vatican, the e-newsletter that broke the story, is edited by Robert Moynihan, a 79-year old whose patron was Benedict XVI.

 God, the crowing from the Right is going to be deafening. Everything he said about capitalism and about the environment is going to be drowned out because he wandered into a noisy American culture-war scuffle in which one side, apparently the one he picked, has a seemingly ceaseless megaphone for its views. What a fcking blunder. What a sin against charity, as the nuns used to say.

I think it was a bad idea but it’s not breaking news that Pope Frank isn’t a fan of marriage equality. He opposed it while Cardinal of Bueno Aires. I don’t think it’s cause for an emotional meltdown by liberals. That’s what the Right wants. I’m not playing their game.

I was also one of the people who thought people were getting carried away by the papal visit. Kindly Doc Maddow was convinced that the “radical” pope would change American politics. Why? I have no idea. Pope John Paul’s early trips to America were the cause of just as much acclaim and hype. I’m not aware that his visits changed American politics for good or ill.

If you’ve collapsed on to your fainting couch just remember: Pope Frank hasn’t changed his positions on poor people, capital punishment, and the environment. He just met with a Protestant non-entity from Podunk. That’s it.

I’ll give Billy Wilder and Izzy Diamond the last word of this segment:

 The other bad idea of the day is this one:

You can already rate restaurants, hotels, movies, college classes, government agencies and bowel movements online.

So the most surprising thing about Peeple — basically Yelp, but for humans — may be the fact that no one has yet had the gall to launch something like it.

When the app does launch, probably in late November, you will be able to assign reviews and one- to five-star ratings to everyone you know: your exes, your co-workers, the old guy who lives next door. You can’t opt out — once someone puts your name in the Peeple system, it’s there unless you violate the site’s terms of service. And you can’t delete bad or biased reviews — that would defeat the whole purpose.

I’d prefer to be unlisted on Peeple but if you must rate me, lie and give me 5 stars. I wonder if Jude is going to petition Peeple and demand recognition of his awesomeness. Stranger things have happened…

That concludes today’s edition of Bad Idea Theatre. I should, however. mention something that’s a helluva good idea: supporting our anthology Kickstarter. There are worse ways to spend your money like this papal pizza box:

Papal Pizza Box

Talk about a bad idea. Time to make like a Philadelphian: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Everyone In Their Own Box: Pope Francis and U.S. Politics

We should listen to our spiritual leaders, always, unless they’re advocating something that would take us out of power, in which case they should just talk nonsense like angels and blessings and “prayers up” and shit:

Still, some of those who were listening took issue with his reference to issues Congress considers in its purview, such as climate change. Inhofe, a leading voice denying climate change exists, says that programs to control carbon emissions would hurt the poor with rising energy costs more than they would save the planet.

And Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., warns that the pope might have overstepped the rhetorical wall between church and state.

“The further religious leaders get into the details of public policy, the less authoritative they tend to be,” Sessions says. “I don’t think the pope went too far. But he was pushing the line. And if you get too close to the political flame, you get burned.”

One of the things that perpetually pisses me off about American Christianity is how easy it’s supposed to be.

I’m a practicing Catholic, in that I’m not very good at it, and the one thing that was drilled into me from day one was how hard life was, on the road to Calvary. The early church had it rough, right? Best bud crucified, hiding in the back room, getting fed to lions, and your only comfort your own vulnerability.

Love your neighbor as yourself? Easy for you to say, asshole. You’re not the one in the Coliseum with Fluffy.

So come to me now, with all I have to do is believe and mouth some words during press conferences, mostly in election years? Bugger off. I’m sorry your God makes you uncomfortable sometimes, but that’s sort of the point. If you were already good at this He wouldn’t bother sending messages across the firing line (or in this case, a pope to tell you all to wake the fuck up).

Our politicians and the pundits who get invited on TV tell us we’re supposed to feel our connection with our deities deeply, to adhere to the dictates of our religious leaders, to revere those who have dedicated their lives to worship regardless of what form that worship takes. They talk about faith and connection all the damn day long, and the minute it makes them itchy, it’s, “Well, that’s just something we do on Sundays, really, and true belief is for rubes. We live in the real world, which by the way is not any warmer, go home.”

You can’t do it like that. Your life is not a series of compartments. I know we like to think it is, because it helps us be mean without thinking we are bad people, and it helps us justify our entire existence, but it’s not a bunch of boxes. You don’t keep God in one box and politics in the other, and then speak of the transformative power of belief and salvation and eternal life. It’s all one thing. Your every action reflects what you believe, and you don’t get to deny and deny and deny. Peter notwithstanding. He wasn’t elected to anything at the time.

A.