As the rains from Hurricane Ida fell across the Gulf Coast I thought of this moment from THE WEST WING. It has been floating in my brain for the past few weeks for other reasons, but I took the storm as a sign to bring it out. It’s an old joke, but it perfectly summarizes the state we find ourselves in vis-a-vis some in the community who believe they don’t need vaccines because “god will protect them”.
Of course it never hurts to have a great actor like Karl Malden deliver it.
But really I do have to wonder why the religious who claim to not need the vaccine don’t see the vaccine creators as having been “touched by god” to create it. Really, are you that narcissistic to believe only you know the mind and ways of that being you call the all knowing, all powerful? Is it at least possible that he (she) has sent you the solution, but you don’t want to believe it because it came through that art known as science? Their are many who believe science is merely man attempting to understand the mysteries of god. Not my take, but at least it is a rational take that the “god will protect me” squad might want to think about.
When you meet him at the pearly gates and ask why he took you, don’t be surprised when he says he sent you masks and social distancing and finally a vaccine, what more did you want? Then he introduces you to a man of wealth and taste.
It’s always fun when a corporal holiday collides with a religious one.
I write this on Monday which is Labor Day here in the States as well as Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, around the world. It feels like we ought to be throwing confetti so long as it is union made confetti from a factory that practices profit sharing, respect for labor, and a low highest paid employee to lowest paid differential.
Those would all be very Jewish ideals and after all, isn’t New Year’s when we think about the ideal way in which to live?
By the way, while it is certainly fine and acceptable to wish your Jewish friends a “Happy New Year” keep in mind that the holiday to follow in a week or so, Yom Kippur, is officially the Day of Atonement when you ask forgiveness from all you may have hurt in the recently ended year. Don’t wish those same friends a “Happy Yom Kippur”, it’s bad form. Kinda like sending your Catholic friends a sympathy card on Good Friday.
But speaking of Labor Day, Delta Airlines and many other companies have decided the cost of insuring employees against COVID has gotten to the point where they will be imposing at $200 per month surcharge on the health care plans of any unvaccinated employee. In addition
in compliance with state and local laws, COVID pay protection will only be provided to fully vaccinated individuals who are experiencing a breakthrough infection.” Unvaccinated employees who contract Covid, without exemptions, will have to use their sick days after that.
I’m usually not in favor of large corporations picking out a minority of employees and targeting them with lower wages (deducting $200 from their paycheck makes their wages lower) but there are two mitigating factors here.
It’s already being done for other health related matters. For instance, smokers pay a higher premium than non-smokers.
GET THE FREAKING VACCINE. It’s not just about you. This is an airborne communicable disease that has killed 4.5 Million people worldwide and in this instance your “rights” are not greater than anyone else’s right to not be infected. Those same rights you claim come with responsibilities, to your fellow workers, your customers, to the world at large. Just as I have a right to free speech I also have a responsibility to not yell “There’s a gremlin on the wing of the plane trying to make it crash”. (The only time I will go with Shatner over Lithgow)
Back to Rosh Hashanah. I am what is referred to as a “Eating and Gifts” Jew as in I only celebrate the holidays that involve a big feast or presents. Rosh Hashanah is a big feast holiday. Besides looking forward to the new year it is a celebration of the fall harvest. The table groans with the weight of beef brisket, potato kugel, late summer vegetables, and sweets for as far as the eye can see. Not a one of them pumpkin spice flavored for which I am eternally grateful.
I’ve been referring to the GOP as a death cult for years now, but over the last few weeks it truly has completed its metamorphosis.
Back in the early days of the madness that has now taken full control of the party, it only venerated the death of people it considered to be bad or evil, and this manifested itself in strong Republican positions favoring the death penalty and wars that killed people of color. But during Ronald Regan’s second presidential campaign, the conservative political movement decided to marry a conservative religious movement: fundamentalist Christianity.
The GOP promised this bigoted, racist (fundamentalist Christianity was the guiding force of Jim Crow) voting bloc the Moon: to outlaw abortion, to only appoint anti-abortion judges, and to fight against civil rights for people of color, women, and LBGTQ people. And fundamentalist Christianity sowed the seeds of its deep hatred for post-civil rights era America into the fabric of the Republican Party, seeds that would mean the death of the post-60s culture.
This unholy alliance was in turn led by politicians, exclusively white males. who had no interest in or use for fundamentalist Christianity: the Bushes were/are Episcopalians, Bob Dole is a Methodist, John McCain identified as an Episcopalian until it was more convenient for him to identify as a Baptist (i.e., he moved from identifying with a mainline denomination to identifying as a fundamentalist because he was the GOP nominee), and Mitt Romney is a Mormon.
Donald Trump is not religious at all, which is eminently fitting as he is the apotheosis of the Reagan campaign’s cynical embrace of fundamentalist Christianity: he embraced a group of people he has zero actual interest in and in turn they embraced someone who transgressed all of their taboos because they believed he could help them impose their worldview on the rest of us.
This approach is highly problematic, and not just from a moral and ethical stance. When you promise revenge to people who feel disenfranchised and cut off from their society, you also have to justify hurting other people, which is pretty anathema to Christianity. The language of dehumanization and hatred led to a terrible series of race-, faith-, and gender-based mass shootings which the GOP absorbed without an ounce of compassion for the victims or sorrow for so much death wrought by their words.
The GOP gleefully took away abortion access for women, even if that procedure was needed to save women’s lives. It allowed medical professionals to refuse to care for LBTGQ people. Republican governors refused Medicaid expansions–that they would not have to pay for–because the lives that would be improved and/or saved would be poor people who were unlikely to make large financial donations to their never-ending campaign war chests.
When Covid-19 paralyzed the country, the GOP fully embraced its calling and gloried in the pandemic’s sorrow and pain, refusing to take any precautions, spreading lies about the disease, and culminating when the cult’s leader told people to inject bleach into themselves—AND PEOPLE DID. Even after the cult’s leader fell critically ill, the party kept pushing its agenda of death. No one’s life was valuable enough to save from Covid-19.
Not being an organization that sleeps on its laurels, and not content with 600,000+ Americans dead from Covid-19, the GOP broke new ground this week. The state of Tennessee is stopping all vaccine outreach to children and teens. It may even do away entirely with the state health department.
In his official bio on the state government website, the governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, is described this way:
The governor and first lady are people of strong faith.
I don’t know what to say. I am a person of strong faith and I know it’s wrong on every level to neglect and abandon vulnerable people, and especially children. The idea that professing Christians could be so indifferent to the sickness and death of children, or so cynical that they would be willing to sacrifice their health and lives for a Pyrrhic victory, is unthinkable.
I’ll let the psalmist have the last word, writing about the Israelites wandering the desert with Moses and falling in with other religions when times got tough instead of sticking to their own teachings:
Last week the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops took a step toward publicly humiliating President Biden by denying him Holy Communion. This action is short-sighted, mean-spirited, and stupid, which means it’s completely on brand for the USCCB.
It’s no secret that the deeply misogynistic Roman Catholic Church is opposed to abortion. I was raised Catholic and had the full anti-abortion indoctrination of grotesque photos of purportedly aborted fetuses (who knows if any of that stuff was real or fake—propagandists use whatever they have available to push their message).
After I was free of parochial education, I started thinking for myself. As an adult, I saw the issue of abortion—and pregnancy—differently than I did as a teenager. I thought about what decision I would make if I found myself pregnant. And I had empathy for women who had to make that decision.
(I know that the anti-choice people love to yell “ADOPTION!!” when discussing abortion, but the reality is that many women just cannot afford to carry a child to term. In addition to the medical appointments, being pregnant still can get a woman fired, or cost her a promotion. If there are complications, it may require her taking unpaid leave.)
I don’t know what Joe Biden thinks deep in his heart about abortion. But I do know that as a politician he is supposed to represent the people who elected him. The Pew Forum says that 55% of people in Delaware support abortion being legal in all or most cases. And Pew also says that 59% of Americans support abortion being legal in all or most cases. And given the makeup of the electorate who elected him, there is a clear mandate for him to support women’s reproductive rights. That’s his job.
It’s ironic that the big fear about JFK’s Catholicism was that he’d be controlled by Rome. And now we have a bunch of Catholic bishops trying to act as if they were Rome to control Biden. This crazy plan might have worked, except that the Vatican has already weighed in on this issue and told the USCCB to back off.
In the end, the USCCB won’t explicitly say that pro-choice politicians must be denied Holy Communion. That’s not how Pharisees work. They’re cowards who hide behind a wall of words which they then twist to suit their purposes.
Naturally the chance to flaunt misogyny under the guise of morality attracts a lot of fellow travelers, and conservative Catholics are out there making the most of it. And they’re being cowards about any challenges to their obvious hypocrisy:
Great to hear from you, Karen! Let me propose that you and I publicly debate the question. Let's see if I can meet your challenges and if you can meet mine. I'm sure it would be illuminating. @RyanTAnd would EPPC be willing to host a debate between Karen and me in Washington, DC?
Karen Tumulty is right—there is a monomaniacal focus on abortion, but no public shaming for Catholic politicians who gleefully support the death penalty, and the Vatican has been very clear about the stance of the RCC on that issue. (Also on display in that exchange—the typical shift to the demand of a public debate when a conservative “thinker” has been shown to be intellectually naked. Pharisees gonna Pharisee.)
I was staying with a (platonic) girlfriend overnight and head the doorbell ring. Thought
“who could it be this early in the morning?”
Heard a conversation at the front door, so I got up from the couch, dressed, and went to see.
My very nice host had opened the door to a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and she was trying to be nice and still get them to leave. Wasn’t happening.
I came up beside her and slipped my arm around her shoulders, saying “Who are these fine people, sweetheart?”. She looked at me and advised me that they were informing her about the Lord Their God, Jesus Christ.
I chuckled gently and told them “I’m terribly sorry. You see, we worship The Dark Lord.” – smiling all the while.
They left a hole in the air from their sudden departure.
It’s been another bad weather week in New Orleans. I’m actually looking forward to what is forecast to be a hot weekend because I’m so tired of rain and being weather-aware. Hell, it’s not even hurricane season yet. Btw, my name is on the hurricane list and I don’t mean my pen name, Adrastos. I’m not displeased, I don’t mind scaring people.
Beatles month continues with one by George Harrison. He wrote this week’s theme song for The Beatles 1966 album Revolver. It was their first record to take a walk on the experimental side, especially in Lennon’s songs. George’s lyrics for I Want To Tell You are somewhat surrealistic hence the Max Ernst featured image. Max is my go-to surrealist.
We have four versions of I Want To Tell You for your listening pleasure: The Beatles original, George live with Eric Clapton’s band, The Smithereens, and Jeff Lynne from the Concert For George.
Like George, my mind is filled with things to say. I’ll share them after the jump.
I was a cartoon kid. I grew up on them, devoting endless Saturday mornings to the careful study of the various nuances of Underdog, Top Cat, or Yogi Bear. But far and away my absolute favorites were anything that came out of the Jay Ward factory. Bullwinkle and Rocky, Tom Slick, Dudley Do-Right, Peabody and Sherman. I may not have understood every joke, in fact there were times I knew something was a joke but too “adult” for me, but I loved the way they just kept spitting them out.
One that I generally did get the jokes for was Fractured Fairy Tales. Take a story that even at the age of seven or eight I had heard a zillion times and put a funny modern twist on it. Add that great narration by Edward Everett Horton and I’d say I would be on the floor laughing but I was already on the floor and laughing.
I bring this up because whenever there is fighting between Israel and an Arab entity (be it country or terrorist group) as there has been the last two weeks inevitably there will be a wag out there opining that this is just two peoples fighting over which Middle Eastern desert sect wrote down the better/correct fairy tales.
Both sides fairy tales are fractured. As are so many of the fairy tales we tell.
Personally I’m an atheist. Where did the world come from? Don’t know, don’t care. I deal with what is, not what might be. I wish the rest of the people in the world saw things as I see them, I think we’d all be better off, but I’m willing to respect a person’s right to their own opinion. You want to believe in God, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, the Church of Bob, that’s your belief system and if it works for you then as the kids these days say, you do you.
Where I do have a problem is when you want to take your personal belief system and impose it on everyone else. I’m not in favor of universal excommunication of all religion, but if your religion says in effect “Only our fairytale is the correct way to live your life, follow or we will make your life worthless” then I’m going to have to say “With all due respect, bullshit”.
Throughout human history we have told these fractured fairy tales. Ancient civilizations were mostly structured by fairy tales. What is a king or royalty but a construct by which a fable is told that this person, by right of family or maybe because he pulled a sword from a stone, is to rule over the rest of the land. As humans have evolved many societies have done away with that particular fairy tale or at least turned it into a profitable center of entertainment.
Yeah, I’m looking at you QEII.
The fairy tales did serve a somewhat useful purpose back in the day. They taught children to not steal from their neighbors or to be careful of the wolf in the forest or to not judge a beast too quickly for he may be an enchanted prince (or at least a nice guy). They also gave hope in a time when many lives were frankly hopeless. Maybe your fairy godmother will get you to the ball or a handsome prince will wake you from a spell or that even an ugly ducking can turn into a beautiful swan.
A friend asked me the other day if I felt different now that I’m the publisher of First Draft. Not at all; other than nervousness at having to follow Athenae in the role. There are worse things than having a case of the jitters. I’ll take them over the heebie jeebies any day.
I considered asking Tommy and Michael to call me Chief so I could make like Perry White and do this:
I decided not to do that, but I may start saying “Great Caesar’s Ghost.” It has a nice retro ring to it. It reminds me of my salad days…
This week’s theme song was written in 1990 by John Hiatt for his Stolen Moments album. The main reason I selected it was this verse:
It’s a new light, a new day
Listening for new meaning learning how to say
It’s a new place but you’ve always been here
You’re just listening to old voices with a new ear
I thought that fit the moment as we break ground on a brand-new year.
The late folk singer Odetta also recorded Listening To Old Voices but I have been unable to find it online. The Hiatt original will just have to do.
Before we jump to the break, here’s the title track from that album:
If you have a stolen moment, let’s join hands and jump to the break together.
The Assembly GOP plan would also enact several restrictions on state and local governments when it comes to limiting crowds. It would:
Restrict the power of local health officers from ordering the closure of a business unless it applies to all types of businesses. Similarly, a local health officer would be barred from restricting capacity at businesses unless those restrictions apply to all businesses.
Prohibit state and local health departments from prohibiting gatherings in churches.
Okay. Let’s ignore the obvious, which is that this entire bill is BUGBONKERS INSANE, punishing schools for offering online education and forcing people who can work remote to not to, just because. Let’s take some of this nonsense on its face, and while we’re at it, work into this the also bonkers ruling by Neil Gorsuch, who knows exactly what he’s doing here:
At the same time, the Governor has chosen to impose no capacity restrictions on certain businesses he considers “essential.” And it turns out the businesses the Governor considers essential include hardware stores, acupuncturists, and liquor stores. Bicycle repair shops, certain signage companies, accountants, lawyers, and insurance agents are
all essential too. So, at least according to the Governor, it may be unsafe to go to church, but it is always fine to pick up another bottle of wine, shop for a new bike, or spend the afternoon exploring your distal points and meridians. Who knew public health would so perfectly align with secular convenience?
Forget Gorsuch’s snippy little asides and his idea that somehow one becomes governor of NEW YORK by shutting down churches and synagogues. Let’s keep it simple. Framing opposition to temporary, targeted public health measures as an assault on religious freedom is bananas.
So now, in a global pandemic that is killing thousands of people every single day, to be told that services cannot be limited because to do so is an infringement on the freedom of religion is an affront to the intelligence with which God endowed His creations.
To, in fact, rile up religious congregations in opposition to public health measures in the name of belief, to characterize care for one’s fellow citizens’ LIVES as some kind of liberal communist plot, to silence the voices of the doctors and scientists God gave us who are BEGGING for a reprieve from large indoor gatherings, who are not asking us not to pray but to temporarily change just one small aspect of our behavior for one finite period of time, is the kind of naked avarice and political cynicism that once had a nice Jewish carpenter flipping tables.
So why is this happening? Why are we being told that God doesn’t want us to listen to doctors? Who has an interest in making this point and why are they making it?
All of this is predicated on the same persecution complex, the same paranoia, that has suffused American Christianity for the past 40 years and has filtered down from the obvious mouth-foaming snake-handling backwoods tentpole preachers to the nice ladies at your aunt’s book club.
They are all convinced Christ is under attack and must be defended.
Why? Well, God has been “banned” from “the schools,” you see.
People aren’t “allowed” to say Merry Christmas “anymore.”
(That one’s from a site called Texas Values, by the way.)
Now, George says, “society has brought social and legislative approval to all types of sexual relationships that used to be considered ‘sinful.’ Since the biblical vision of what it means to be human tells us that not every friendship or love can be expressed in sexual relations, the church’s teaching on these issues is now evidence of intolerance for what the civil law upholds and even imposes. What was once a request to live and let live has now become a demand for approval. The ‘ruling class,’ those who shape public opinion in politics, in education, in communications, in entertainment, is using the civil law to impose its own form of morality on everyone.”
There are rude words that your maiden aunts now have to see on Facebook, also. I don’t know anymore. It’s become a morass, a generally accepted narrative that the most victimized people on earth are the ones with “Blessed” stickers on their cars. And the best way to defend against that kind of assault is to throw a massive public hissyfit.
Somehow any evidence of a secular society, or the simple fact that not everyone is bound to respect what you respect, has become fuel for the least justified persecution complex in history. Yes, including the Cubs. And it enrages me more than almost anything else, because: How dare you make God so small, as to be bothered in the slightest by things like this.
As a practicing Catholic (I’m not very good at it, clearly) I’ve found my religion hemmed in on very few sides despite the secular circles I run in. I wear a saint’s medal around my neck and have done for 20 years and literally no one has ever said boo about it. I’ve worn it in mosques and synagogues and at liberal political gatherings where absolutely the most vocal atheists on the planet were in attendance (and drank me under the table).
This year I bought a large, overly expensive Christmas tree and lit it up in my front window. My daughter is learning the Nativity story in our home and there is a Bible, albeit more of a family heirloom than a working copy, in public view. We own, at last count, six books about the Christian holidays, including one with the full-on Beatitudes.
I discuss God with as many people as can possibly handle it. That someone may not like my tone doesn’t mean I don’t believe, and I find it offensive in the extreme to have my faith questioned because I don’t share the misconception that God and His Son and their representatives here on earth need us, of all creatures. That Jesus and His Dad can probably handle Themselves is not a point They need me to make.
Time was, my mainstream American brothers and sisters and nonbinary buds in Christ, we made vigorous mockery of the kinds of idiots who’d let their own kids die rather than entrust them to doctors, in the name of the Lord. Now we’re throwing in with them, in the name of political power and sticking it to the libs. Now we’re no better than the man on a rooftop who, watching the floodwaters rise, let a boat and a helicopter pass him by because God would save him. Great job, everybody. Well done.
I miss church, too. Advent is my JAM, my spiritual booty call, the time when I LOVE being in church. But Illinois is not, thank God, governed by the kind of people running Wisconsin, so unlimited indoor services are out of the question. Anyway, my parish priest is in quarantine.
Visiting the sick and dying, the elderly and alone, placed him at risk so he’s locked down while his test results are processed and for 14 days thereafter. He’s not screaming about government tyranny. He’s not in front of the church nailing himself to the door because no law of men applies to him.
He’s staying in the rectory and sending out emails asking people to please stop bringing him food because he has plenty, and in fact if anyone needs some they should come by when this is all over.
That’s who this kind of thing puts at risk. That’s who will truly suffer because some right-wing politicians want to make people think they’re being martyred. That’s who will sicken, through no fault of their own, because it was in the interests of a few people to feel important by acting like they’re persecuted.
That’s who will die alone in an ICU while their families say goodbye on an iPad.
These are iPad stations being prepared for virtual ICU end of life visits by a palliative care doc I know. Jesus. pic.twitter.com/lIgbg0FhaL
Look at that and imagine it’s your mother, your son, your spouse, on the other end, miles away, because you didn’t think God could handle waiting six months for you to get a vaccine and sit in a pew again.
I am so tired of explaining this to people who should know better. Who pride themselves on their belief in an awesome God, in a God who is everywhere, always with us, and can do anything including make it not rain on circus day. Who seem to think God wouldn’t cut them a break if they thought they could save their neighbors.
Who seek out — and you have to seek it out, you have to sign up on Facebook to get memes from these pages and make the kinds of friends who’ll send them to you in e-mail forwards — stories that activate this disgust response in order to have something to get riled up about. When, in truth, they can practice their faith all they want without HAVING to deal with anything more than the occasional bit of evidence that there are other people out there who aren’t them.
No one is coming for your Nativity scene, DUGAN.
While we’re on the subject of faith, the only people who’ve ever questioned my Christian bona fides have been my devout fellow believers. It’s not the atheists lifing me all day long about how I’m doing it wrong, but there sure are a lot of Catholics up in this piece implying I am no real member of their Body. Mostly because I don’t believe in limiting medical procedures of the type that helped me have my daughter, or in putting lawmakers in charge of women’s health.
Maybe it would help convince them if I simply told them I was worried about government overreach.
Some call it fake fall, I call it a tease. Whatever you call it, the weather has been mild and temperate all week. I’m not going to say more about it because I don’t want to jinx it.
The city of New Orleans is entering Phase 3.1. They’re loosening more pandemic-related restrictions since we did not have a major post Labor Day spike. I thought we would, but I was wrong. It’s not the first time and won’t be the last. Punditting is risky business. I’m still not going inside bars or restaurants but I’m hoping more of them will be able to survive. Let my people go-cup. You’ll have to read 2020 Fatigue at Bayou Brief to get the reference.
Stephen Stills wrote this week’s theme song in 1966. It’s the protest song’s protest song. It was originally written about clashes between hippies and cops on the Sunset Strip, but it’s become a universal protest song. It’s still relevant in 2020.
We have four versions of For What It’s Worth for your listening pleasure: the Buffalo Springfield original; CSN live with Tom Petty; Keb Mo, and Billy Porter with Stephen Stills from this year’s DNC.
Now that battle lines have been drawn, let’s jump to the break.
The scrutiny focused on Ms. Barrett’s beliefs has provoked allegations of old-fashioned anti-Catholicism on behalf of her Democratic critics. A good amount of febrile nonsense has indeed been floated regarding Ms. Barrett’s spiritual life, such as the notion that People of Praise inspired Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,”a charge that is reminiscent of 19th-century myths of nuns kidnapping good Protestant girls to force the faith upon them.
People keep pointing out the absurdity — the Democratic presidential nominee is a Catholic, the Speaker of the House is a Catholic, THE ONLY CATHOLIC PRESIDENT WE’VE EVER ACTUALLY HAD WAS A DEMOCRAT — and it’s such a fundamental misunderstanding of Catholicism as a part of modern electoral politics that I have to laugh.
Republican Catholics do not make room in their Republicanism or in their Catholicism for anyone who is not fervently anti-abortion.
That’s all there is.
You cannot be a Democrat and a Catholic, because Democrats generally support abortion rights. This has been the line for three decades at least, that the only issue that matters is abortion, the only Roman Catholic position that life begins at conception, and therefore there is no moral option to support a candidate who does not oppose abortion in the strongest of ways from the earliest stages of pregnancy, with no exceptions whatsoever.
No, not even if the anti-abortion candidate is a subhuman slime mold who’s likely paid for several abortions himself. Not even then. Because, you see, the slime mold still appoints anti-abortion judges. So it’s worth it.
That’s how you have churchgoing politicians told they’re hostile to religion, while a guy who couldn’t spell Jesus if you spotted him the J and both S’s gets a pass and his henchmen get awards for “Christlike behavior.”
You can point out the hypocrisy all day long. I’m not here to kinkshame you. We’re in a global pandemic. Make your own fun.
Just stop expecting it to matter that the candidate of a party that is supposedly so anti-Catholic is, himself, a Catholic. The people calling him godless know very well that he isn’t. They don’t care, and they know the people they’re talking to don’t care either.
They want an anti-abortion judiciary and they will tie themselves into any knots they have to in order to get to one. Stop acting like if you win the meme wars with your maiden aunt/racist uncle somehow this will convince them of anything. They are dishonest in their means but they are 100 percent serious about their ends.
Far better to spend our time focused on dissuading purportedly objective news outlets from allowing six reliably-available-for-a-quote dickheads from defining Christianity in general, defining Catholicism in particular, and promoting the entire idea that Americans are electing a spiritual leader of any kind. (The job entails drone-bombing schoolchildren, do you really want to give it to a monk?)
Democrats elected, let us not forget, the most devoutly Christian president in modern times in James Earl Carter, shortly before it began to occur to Republicans that they could use this one issue to cleave Holy Mother Church in two and leave Her for dead in the alley. Carter, you’ll recall, was roundly characterized as some kind of Communist pussy and is presently 856 years old and hammering nails into Habitat for Humanity Houses on weekends, in between curing diseases and brokering world peace.
So maybe the next time someone who hated him and his party opens their yawp about who does and doesn’t have JC on speed-dial, instead of arguing with the jackass we ask why he’s allowed in the stable in the first place.
There were few genuine scandals during the Obama administration. There were plenty of attempts by morally and ethically bankrupt Republicans to conjure up scandals, but the record is clear: nobody on Team Obama was indicted let alone convicted.
In contrast, there’s a deluge of Team Trump scandals; so many that it’s hard to keep track. There’s the scandalous pandemic response, the babies in cages scandal, and the corrupt cronyism and nepotism that’s rampant in this administration. The Mustache of War has belatedly chimed in with a new scandal involving China. Tornadic activity swirls above the White House on a daily basis. It’s amazing that the roof is still on the building.
There are so many scandal tornadoes that it’s hard to keep track of them all. I continue to believe that the worst scandals involve William Herrmann Goering Barr and the Justice Department. There’s cronyism, corruption, and mendacity aplenty at the DOJ but until recently Barr maintained an air of competence in furtherance of his nefarious schemes. Until the botched firing of SDNY honcho Geoffrey Berman last weekend.
Initially, Barr claimed that Berman had resigned. He did no such thing. Then, Barr dragged the Impeached Insult Comedian into it and claimed he’d fired Berman. Trump disputed Barr’s lie with one of his own. In the end, they wound up with a less pliable replacement thereby proving that it truly is the Sovereign District of New York.
“What I heard — repeatedly — was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the president.”
Anyone surprised? Roger Stone and corruption are synonymous. In fact, he’s a one-man scandal tornado. Zelinsky is testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee today. It should be interesting to see how GOPers handle it. We know that Gym Jordan will shout in defense of President* Pennywise. He has no conscience to wrestle with, after all.
The Kaiser of Chaos took his own personal scandal tornado to the pandemic plagued state of Arizona yesterday. One could even call him the White Tornado like in the old Ajax commercials:
Admittedly, that analogy is imperfect. President* Pennywise spreads dirt and destruction wherever he goes. Perhaps that makes him Pigpen’s evil twin:
The Impeached Insult Comedian was in Arizona to plug his stupid wall and oblige his supporters to sit in close proximity to one another. This time a smaller venue was chosen so it was not a repeat of the Tulsa Trainwreck other than the pandemic spreading possibility of this rally. In a church no less. I guess evangelicals expect the pandemic to bring on Armageddon. I have no idea why they’re giddy at that prospect, but they are. They and Trump deserve each other.
As long as Trump remains in office, the country will be on a permanent Scandal Tornado Watch. The only way to end that is to vote him out. Make it so, America, make it so.
You want to pray? Call your parents, your siblings, anyone you’re lucky enough to love.
You want to pray? Put a note on your window, as one of my neighbors did yesterday, with your phone number: LOW RISK PERSON WILLING TO PICK UP MEDICINE OR GROCERIES, PLEASE TEXT.
You want to pray? Vote early or by mail.
You want to pray? My church cancelled communion LAST WEEK. They cancelled mass on Wednesday. That was prayer.
You want to pray? Drive someone to work so they don’t have to take the bus or the train. Drive yourself to work so you’re not on the bus or the train.
You want to pray? Give your fucking employees as many days off as you can. Bow your fucking head that way, you fucking fucks. God, I am so angry at everybody who’s got to barista right now. I am so angry on behalf of the gas station attendants whose workplaces never close, never ever, no matter what.
I am so fucking angry at everybody who wants to tongue-fondle Jesus on TV but won’t lift a finger to pay for free testing, and that includes politicians and the pastors who support them and the voters who fall in line while their parents and grandparents get sick. Joel Fucking Osteen could take what he spends on lunch and test everyone in this country. Jeff Bezos could do that AND pay everybody’s sick leave. But Our Father, Who Art in Heaven, amirite?
Our Father says Get Off Your Ass and bake a pie or something, in His holy name. This is such crap. Yes, in absence of everything else useful send some good thoughts skyward but there is so much to do and no one in any position of power deserves to be kneeling right now unless it’s to tie someone else’s shoes.
Do you know all the crap Jesus has to do? Like, all of it? He has so much shit to do. He has to keep His eye on sparrows and sort His junk mail and appear in visions from here to Laredo and now on top of that you want to give Him the unbelievable burden of supporting Sean Spicer on Dancing With The Stars? For His sake.
Sometimes I like to imagine Jesus, in His human incarnation, just bitching to His mom. “It’s not FAIR. I’m supposed to save every baby with cancer and ensure good weather on circus day AND make sure this nitwit wins his fail-dancing competition? Where does it end? When can I take a me-damned nap?”
Of course people are going to respond with “well, Jesus doesn’t get tired or frustrated and loves all of us etc etc” to which I would then offer as rebuttal the entirety of the Gospels in which He is basically like, “Guys, come on, I explained this six times already. Must we?”
As much fun as it is to clown on Huckabee and Spicer, the fascists’ court jesters are actually calling out to their true flock, those Christians who believe that Jesus is their personal savior and that that means He literally must climb into the pit and save them from everything up to and including the genital herpes they got from the sandwich shop girl. It’s a bizarre relationship with God, and this is me saying this. My relationship with Him is a series of increasingly loud arguments followed by an Advent booty call.
But this is the base they’ve cultivated. This is the army they’ve called to fight a culture war that is basically about what you watch on TV and hating liberals. This is why I say it’s useless to argue with the Trump cult. You want to convince the people who find THIS persuasive? You want me to believe talking to them is some kind of, what, normal option? No thank you.
Not only does Jesus have enough work to do already but so do I.
Conservative televangelist Pat Robertson says Alabama abortion law is ‘extreme’ and he believes…DAILY MAIL UK ^ | May 15, 2019 | Keith Griffith For Dailymail.com Posted on 5/16/2019, 1:29:24 AM by Morgana
FULL TITLE: Conservative televangelist Pat Robertson says Alabama abortion law is ‘extreme’ and he believes the state ‘has gone too far’
Christian televangelist Pat Robertson has said that he believes Alabama’s near total ban on abortions is ‘extreme’ and that the state has gone ‘too far’.
Robertson, who opposes abortion and hopes to see Roe v Wade overturned, made the remarks on Wednesday on The 700 Club, hours before Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed the new law.
The Alabama law contains an exception for when the pregnancy creates a serious health risk for the woman, but not an exception for rape or incest, and would punish doctors who perform abortions with up to life in prison.
‘I think Alabama has gone too far,’ remarked the 89-year-old Robertson
‘It’s an extreme law, and they want to challenge Roe verses Wade, but my humble view is that this is not the case that we want to bring to the Supreme Court, because I think this one will lose,’ the conservative minister continued.
Robertson has been an outspoken opponent of abortion, and drew condemnation when he implied in 2005 that Hurricane Katrina’s destruction of New Orleans was God’s punishment for America’s abortion laws.
But in Wednesday’s broadcast Robertson said he feared that Alabama’s new law would not create the right test case to challenge the 1973 precedent of Roe v Wade.
‘It’s ill-considered,’ he said. ‘The Alabama case, god bless ’em they’re trying to do something, but I don’t think that’s the case that I’d want to bring to the Supreme Court.’
Governor Ivey signed the measure on Wednesday. The law will make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy a felony punishable by 10 to 99 years or life in prison.
I think you want to pass the most restrictive law that might be upheld before the Supreme Court. This one is so politically risky that it could lead to serious election losses in 2020. If we could roll back the 19th Amendment, this wouldn’t be a problem. Thing is – women can vote, and they tend to vote against politicians who want to ban abortion.
7 posted on 5/16/2019, 3:06:23 AM by Zhang Fei (My dad had a Delta 88. That was a car. It was like driving your living room.)
My fiancé was raised as a reform Jew; I am a casual Christian. We have mutually decided not to circumcise our forthcoming son. His family is, to put it lightly, up in arms about our not hosting a bris. (“Because it’s a Jewish rite of passage!”)
I’m not sure what a casual Christian is. Does it mean she wears flip flops and shorts to church?
It’s unfortunate that the absence of a mohel is causing such turmoil but columnist Nicole Cliffe offers some good advice on how to avoid the surprise bris and a break with the Mother-In-Law.
A surprise bris? Oy, just oy.
The main reason this tickled me so much is that it reminded me of this classic SNL sketch:
I was absolutely convinced that there was a Samurai Bris sketch with John Belushi as Samurai Futaba, but I couldn’t find any record of it on the interweb. I did, however, find a site with a Samurai Mohel joke on it.
I guess a Samurai Bris sketch would have been too cutting edge even for the original SNL. Oh well, this Samurai Deli GIF will just have to do:
OK, people – a few hundred dollars worth of hardware and labour and the loss of my Windows 7 Professional software later, I’m back online and ready to rock.
Only one subject this morning – Hail Satin!!
IRS recognizes Satanic Temple as ‘church’, grants tax-exempt status
April 26, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has formally recognized the Satanic Temple as a church, according to a celebratory announcement by the organization and as confirmed by the Associated Press.
On Thursday, the Satanic Temple announced on Instagram that “for the very [first] time in history, a satanic organization has been recognized by the United States federal government as being a church.” The IRS website confirms that the Satanic Temple is now a tax-exempt organization “eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions,” but gives no further details on its status beyond being a “public charity.”
The AP, however, reports that it received a copy of the notice, which classifies the Satanic Temple as a “church or a convention or association of churches.”
The IRS’s decision comes despite the Satanic Temple’s own website all-but acknowledging it isn’t a religion in the traditional sense. The group’s FAQ page explains that it doesn’t believe Satan or other supernatural concepts literally exist, but embraces Satan’s name as a “symbol of the Eternal Rebel in opposition to arbitrary authority.”
It claims to qualify as a religion because it has “deeply held beliefs that we actively advocate,” a “narrative structure by which we contextualize our lives and works,” and a set of symbols and practices that give a “sense of identity, culture, community, and shared values” – a definition of “religion” that could encompass any number of ideological, political, or cultural groupings not traditionally considered to be religions.
“IRS regulations draw a clear distinction between ‘churches’ and other religious organizations,” Catholic News Agencyadds. “A church must have certain characteristics, according to IRS requirements, including: a recognized creed and form of worship; distinct ecclesiastical government; formal code of doctrine; ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed courses of study; established places of worship and regular religious services.”
Rolling Stonenotes that the Satanic Temple itself has rejected tax-exempt status in the past, but reversed its position in 2017. Temple president Lucien Greaves made the change in protest of President Donald Trump’s moves to protect religious liberty, which Greaves claimed was turning religious groups into a “privileged class” from which Satanists should benefit as well.
“This acknowledgment will help make sure The Satanic Temple has the same access to public spaces as other religious organizations, affirm our standing in court when battling religious discrimination, and enable us to apply for faith-based government grants,” the Temple’s announcement added, meaning the new status is likely to bolster its legal claims in cases such as its placing of Satanic statues in the state capitals of Arkansas and Illinois.
The Daily Callernotes that the new status is “redundant” on the matter of grants, as there currently aren’t any federal grants exclusively available to faith-based groups, and faith-based and secular groups are equally free to compete for grants.
The weird weather continues in New Orleans. We seem to have skipped fall and gone straight to winter. One day we ran the AC, the next the heater. As you saw yesterday, the cats are happy. They love blankets and space heaters. I could do without either. I hate the cold; a stance befitting someone who has lived most of their life in California and Louisiana.
The other down side of cold weather NOLA-style is that public places crank up the heat. I strolled to the grocery store the other day dressed for the great outdoors, I returned a sweaty mess since I had to walk fast to avoid the Valence Street rooster. I’m not a fan of chickens and this one is on the aggressive side. I’d rather eat them than dodge them.
This week’s theme song was written by Tony Banks in 1976 for Genesis’ last pure prog album, Wind & Wuthering. Afterglow is a drop dead gorgeous song that closes the album as well as an era. It’s the last Genesis album featuring lead guitar player Steve Hackett who was missed almost as much by the band’s fans as Peter Gabriel.
We have two versions for your listening pleasure: the Genesis original followed by the Classic Rock String Quartet.
Now that we’re afterglowing, let’s jump to the break. I promise a soft landing.
Writing for First Draft is one of my passions. It’s often my therapy. This has been one of those times. The MAGA Bomber’s failed attempt at mass assassination shook me to the core. Then, the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh left many of us questioning what it means to be an American in the Trump era.
I am proud to be an American, but I am ashamed of our current leadership’s inability to respond with an ounce of human decency or a scintilla of empathy. As far as the president* is concerned, it’s an inconvenient interruption of rally mania. As far as I’m concerned, Trump and his allies have blood on their hands, if not literally, then symbolically.
I was taught in Squirrel Hill that we were in the one country that was an exception to the history of the human race in general and the Jews in particular. Founded on Enlightenment principles of individuality, freedom, tolerance and justice, the United States was the only place besides Israel where Jews could live at one with their nation, unburdened by fear or confusion about identity.
Now I must wonder: If Pittsburgh isn’t safe for Jews, if Squirrel Hill isn’t safe, if the Tree of Life isn’t safe, what place is? Without diminishing anyone else’s suffering and death, it’s a sad fact that the Jews often are the canaries in the coal mine of social and political collapse. So, what does the bloodshed in the Tree of Life mean?
It is a sign that hatred of The Other is poisoning our public life. It’s always been a vivid strain in America, stimulated by the stress of immigrant waves, but one we have overcome time and again. Although we often honor it in the breach, our founding idea remains: that each person here is precious and born with unalienable rights. Now, political enemies in America deny each other’s humanity.
It is a sign that communications can foster something less than understanding. Social media allows us to be connected but also caricatured as propaganda in campaigns of dehumanizing division.
It is a sign that President Trump’s remorselessly cynical, jungle-style vision of how to conduct business and politics is ripping apart a society already under the stress of generational, demographic, technological, economic and social change.
Once again, Donald Trump read a prepared statement in a flat, emotionless voice to signal the more mindless members of his personality cult that he didn’t really mean it. Then it was back to throwing raw meat at crowds of ravenous MAGA Maggots. He had the chutzpah to lecture the grief-stricken people at the Tree of Life Synagogue that armed guards could have prevented the slaughter. Wrong: Three police officers were wounded by the anti-Semitic gun man whose name I refuse to say. This recitation of the NRA line in the wake of a massacre sickened me.
I felt even sicker when the list of victims was published on Sunday morning:
Daniel Stein, 71
Joyce Fienberg, 75
Richard Gottfried, 65
Rose Mallinger, 97
Jerry Rabinowitz, 66
Cecil Rosenthal, 59
David Rosenthal, 54
Bernice Simon, 84
Sylvan Simon, 86
Melvin Wax, 88
Irving Younger, 69
Who kills octogenarians and a 97 year-old woman? Only a monster. A monster whose worst impulses were exacerbated by a national dialogue in which George Soros is the stand-in for Jewish demons conjured up in the fever dreams of the far-right. Donald Trump uses their vile rhetoric laced with anti-Semitic code words and names: Soros, globalists. Rinse, repeat, and wash.
Defenses that Trump cannot be anti-Semitic are out there already. His son-in-law is a Jew, his daughter a convert, and his grandchildren are Jewish. All true but there’s a difference between personal and political bigotry. His kinfolks are the good ones, a credit to their faith. Soros is a bad hombre who is flooding the country with brown Central Americans. Ergo Trump cannot be anti-Semitic according to his defenders. This is, of course, nonsense. Demagogues do not need to believe in their rhetoric to inflict damage. Is it better that Hitler believed in his rhetoric as opposed to Trump’s cynical exploitation of ancient hatreds? I think not.
What happened Saturday morning at Squirrel Hill was an American Kristallnacht in broad daylight. It inspired the students at a nearby high school-Howard Fineman’s alma mater-to hold a candlelight vigil at which the chant was for not for vengeance, but for people to vote.
These are terrible times for our country but it’s time to fight back in the way that Americans traditionally have: by voting the rascals out. There has never been a midterm election as important as this one. Vote like your life depends on it. The future of the Republic certainly does: 8 days until the midterms. Tick tock, motherfuckers.
The events of last week have not only broken the social contract, they have smashed it to smithereens. I never, ever thought I’d compare something that happened in the United States of America to Kristallnacht but it’s inescapable in 2018. Godwin’s law is dead, long live Godwin’s law.
These ugly times call for some beauty. That’s why the last word goes to Paul Simon. The final stanza of American Tune gets me every time:
We come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age’s most uncertain hour
and sing an American tune
But it’s all right, it’s all right
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest
That’s all I’m trying to get some rest
In the 1980’s I paid attention to televangelists because their antics were so entertaining. From Jim and Tammy Bakker to the Gret Stet’s own Jimmy Swaggart, they were larger than life as were their scandals. The so-called prosperity preachers will inevitably get into trouble and that’s how Jesse Duplantis came on my radar screen. I’d never heard of him even though his ministry was founded in Destrehan, Louisiana which is a mere 30 miles from Adrastos World HQ. Apparently, I am a slacker in the house of the lord. I should pay more attention to billboards on the interstate.
Duplantis has a problem. He wants to spread the prosperity gospel worldwide but he can’t do it flying commercially. He needs a fourth private jet. And that is why Jesse Duplantis is malaka of the week.
If Jesus was to descend from heaven and physically set foot on 21st century earth, prosperity gospel televangelist Jesse Duplantis told his followers, the Redeemer would probably pass on riding on the back of a donkey: “He’d be on an airplane preaching the Gospel all over the world.”
And Duplantis believes Jesus wouldn’t exactly settle for 30 inches of legroom or getting patted down by TSA.
Why would He choose anything less than the Falcon 7X, a private jet that nears the sound barrier but also has noise-limiting acoustic technology, a bluetooth-enabled entertainment center and an optional in-flight shower?
Duplantis, saying he needs roughly $54 million to help him efficiently spread the gospel to as many people as possible, has asked the Lord – and hundreds of thousands of hopefully deep-pocketed followers across the world – for just such a plane.
During his request for a new plane, Duplantis said he realized some people would remain skeptical.
He said there was no obligation, and there was only one surefire way to determine what, exactly God wanted them to do: Prayer.
“So pray about becoming a partner toward it, if you like to and if you don’t, you don’t have to, but I wish you would,” he said. “Because let me tell you something about it, it’s going to touch people. It’s going to reach people. It’s going to save lives one soul at a time . . .
“If you pray about it, I believe God will speak to you.”
Did he say pray? He should have said prey because that’s what Malaka D and his ilk do: prey on the poor and/or ignorant. The prosperity gospel is a pious Ponzi scheme. It implies that if you give money to the preacher, you’ll become as rich as him. No wonder so many of these grifters are Trumpers. It’s same message, only the accent is different. You say youse, I say y’all. Let’s call the whole thing off.
The quote that stands out, of course, is the whole Jesus wouldn’t ride a donkey thing. I’m not a believer but I seem to recall Jesus being big on helping, not grifting, the poor. I suspect he’d take the bus, ride the subway, or drive a junker to get around. They’re the modern equivalents of riding a donkey. The only jackass in this story is the prosperity preacher. And that is why Jesse Duplantis is malaka of the week.
Contemplating Malaka D’s plane mania has given me some aviation related earworms.