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Pulp Fiction Thursday: Profiles In Courage

JFK’s Profiles In Courage isn’t the sort of book that comes to mind when you think of pulp fiction. It’s not fictional and the covers do not feature women with three heads or breasts. But it fits the moment in the wake of Trump’s second impeachment trial.

One chapter is about Kansas Senator Edmund Ross’ inner turmoil during the Johnson impeachment. I would have voted the other way, but Ross took what he believed to be a principled stand.

In addition to the longstanding authorship question, the book has other issues. The New Yorker’s Nicholas Lemann wrote an article last year entitled JFK’s Profiles In Courage Has A Racism Problem. What Should We Do About It? It’s well worth your attention.

Here are two dogeared covers of the best-selling book ever published by an Oval One:

 

I Am Running Out Of Patience With People Who Think God Needs Our Defense

This ulcer’s coming along nicely, thanks much:

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.

Before the pandemic I attended church. The building had a fire code posted on the wall. There was an occupancy limit then and there is one now. It was a different occupancy limit than the one in a bar, or a theater. No one, not a single person, implied that it was government overreach to expect the roof to be maintained, or the electrical wiring to not catch fire. All of those codes are dependent on the particulars of what occurs inside the spaces as designed. All of them take into account not just the physical size of the space but how it is used.

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.)

People can be married who couldn’t 20 years ago, not in certain congregations of course, but under American civil law.

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.

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.

A.

Today on Tommy T’s Obsession with the Freeperati – “Jim Rob’s not here, man” edition

Went to Freeperville this weekend, and got this on a splash page:

FR Forum Down for Migration!
IMPORTANT: Free Republic will be down all night tonight for migration. Will be going down at 8:00 pm (Pacific) and should up again within about 12 hours.

Sorry, can’t be helped. We received notice from our provider that they were closing their San Jose data center on May 15, 2021 and that we could move our equipment to their new center when it’s ready.

We thought we’d have months to prepare, but they recently moved the deadline up to Nov 15 (tomorrow).

John scrambled and has a new home set up for us and is going to get a clean backup tonight and install it at our new location. Should be up and running by morning. Our IP address will be new, but hopefully everything else will remain the same.

See our group pages on facebook for messages.
Jim Robinson (11/14/2020, 7:20 PM Pacific)

Of course,  as of this morning, they’re back up –  me, I’m going back to bed.

You Want In the REAL LIVE VAN on Tuesday?

Then send an e-mail to me at athenae25 at yahoo.com and I will send you an invite to First Draft’s first LIVE election night party.

ZOOM THE RESULTS, BITCHES. I can’t do this alone and you shouldn’t have to.

You’ll get an invite the morning of Tuesday.

A.

Not Everything Sucks: British Muslim Charity Edition

Finsbury Park’s getting fed: 

Finsbury Park is a neighbourhood often characterised as ‘superdiverse’ or noted for its ‘working-class flavour’. Right in the centre of Jeremy Corbyn’s Islington North constituency, the smallest in the country by area, it is dense with successive migrant communities – most notably Irish, Afro-Caribbean, Greek and Turkish Cypriot, Turkish, Kurdish, and more recently Somali and Algerian. Now a hub of the North African community, the area has been experiencing rapid gentrification thanks in part to its position as a transport hub, the patchwork shops and restaurants of Seven Sisters Road and the surrounding estates now standing in the shadows of City North, a ‘landmark cosmopolitan development’ next to Finsbury Park tube station.

For many of those receiving the food – either picking up or being delivered to – as well as the volunteers from the mutual aid group, this was their first interaction with Muslim Welfare House and the community it typically serves.

People are so good and true. They deserve leaders worthy of that, who will uplift examples like this instead of telling them who to be angry at and who to blame.

A.

Final Debate Live Coverage Breaking CRACK VAN

Thank God it’s almost over, I’m back to hourly panic attacks again:

THANKS FOR COMING ALL. SEE YOU IN THE VIDEO VAN ON ELECTION NIGHT.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

Jennifer Wheeler is cooking and posting videos: 

“It’s not just about cooking a meal and having the meal for lunch or dinner, but it’s about connection with our ancestors and how they have been so resilient and strong,” said Jennifer Wheeler.

Jennifer Wheeler, a Navajo language teacher, posted a series of videos on her Facebook page showing her making traditional foods like blue corn much and kneel down bread. Her videos have been shared across the platform tens of thousands of times.

“I didn’t even imagine the response that I’m getting now,” she said.

BRB adding to my “watch and then try to cook it” list which is currently 4,000 recipes long.

A.

Fuck Him Up, Kamala, With the Crack Van of Loooooooooove

I might already be drunk. It’s been a day. Is it ever not, but especially today.

Van closed! Thanks for coming and be here for the NEXT presidential debate, if it happens, who the fuck knows, I’m really drunk.

A.

TEACH US HOW TO DOUGIE

I told you I’d be posting pretty much nothing but Democratic mash notes from here on out. You were warned.

UGH, GOD, GET A ROOM.

Seeing a dude in these roles is always a really interesting prospect to me. Like 2/3 of the charm of a Hillary presidency would have been seeing First Gentleman Bill Clinton handling the Easter Egg Roll and all the other extremely gendered shit we expect the First Spouse to do. I’ve said often that the only thing I find relatable about Melania is her wanting nothing to do with the ceremonial stuff that the Sally Quinns of the world will tell you is EVERYTHING.

Shake it up, Dougie.

A.

First Debate Crack Van!!!!!

VAN CLOSED. THANK YOU ALL FOR BEING HERE. I could not do that alone. Jump into the comments and tell me what you think of the new van. Transcript highlights later!

Like I was watching this shit alone.

Pick a name and come on in! We don’t have the sound effects anymore but we do have a stable platform that works with WordPress and it won’t crash your browser 7 times in an hour.

A.

Happy Biden Things

SUNGLASSES:

According to Biden, he’s been wearing Ray-Ban Aviator sunglasses for most of his life. “My lord, I’ve been wearing aviators since I was a freshman in college as a lifeguard,” he told the Skimm in 2016. 

An image search for “Joe Biden sunglasses” does not disappoint and turns up some B. Barry Bamz as well if that’s your kink, I’m not here to judge you. I’m here to serve you political crack and if you don’t know that by now, you are in the wrong place.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

Ferret edition: 

This little critter may only be 8 months old, but that hasn’t stopped him from raising thousands of dollars for charity.

Over the course of just two and a half weeks, Bandit the pet ferret managed to complete a full marathon by taking the challenge in his tiny stride and completing several miles per day alongside his owners.

I love my cats, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I really miss my ferrets. Pictures at the link are priceless.

Via NancyDrewed.

A.

Here You Go

I heard this in the car and somehow it was just what I needed, and maybe you need it too:

A.

Not Everything Sucks

Did we know this was still a thing? I DID NOT KNOW THIS WAS STILL A THING!

I am a huge OLD who assumes everything good from my childhood, like making homemade IEDs in the woods out of coke bottles and firecrackers, is long gone, so when I find some small part of it preserved nothing could be more delightful.

A.

Not Everything Sucks

Born in 1920, she’s still dancing: 

Rogers was twisting for her loved ones and neighbors who came out to celebrate her birthday Thursday.

Born June 18, 1920 in Biloxi, Mississippi, Rogers has called her ranch house on the 6800 block of South Champlain Avenue home since the 1970s.

A surprise parade and block party at the house was organized by members of Rogers’ Washington Park church, the Greater Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church, and the Andrew Holmes Foundation, whose “Club 100” throws grand celebrations for Chicagoans’ 99th and 100th birthdays.

Dozens of attendees made the celebration “out of this world,” said Preston Allen, whose wife Lizzie was Rogers’ longtime co-worker.

He didn’t expect the gathering to be as large as it was, but said it made sense considering how long Rogers has been alive and her care for those in her circle.

“This is just Mama; this is our play-mother,” Allen said.

Click through for the photos and the video especially.

A.

Fights That Shouldn’t Have to Be Fights

Aimee Stephens, heroine:

Stephens’ lawyers argued her firing was a clear example of discrimination because of her sex, and the 6th Circuit agreed.

“The unrefuted facts show that the Funeral Home fired Stephens because she refused to abide by her employer’s stereotypical conception of her sex,” the court wrote in a 49-page decision.

“Discrimination against employees, either because of their failure to conform to sex stereotypes or their transgender and transitioning status, is illegal under Title VII,” the court said. “It is analytically impossible to fire an employee based on that employee’s status as a transgender person without being motivated, at least in part, by the employee’s sex.”

Stephens told Vox last year she hoped her lawsuit would encourage others to “always strive to be who you are” regardless of the case’s outcome.

“Deep down you know who you are and don’t let anyone else tell you any different,” she said. “Hold your head high and keep marching forward. It will get better.”

 

I hate that these things have to be fights. I hate that people who’ve already gone through so much stress and trauma couldn’t even feel safe in a job, a job that had nothing to do with their gender identity or sexuality. Life is hard enough, everything is an unending automated phone tree of bullshit, why does it give people pleasure to fuck around with the lives of those who are already at risk?

A.

 

Not Everything Sucks

Nina Simone existed, and her music still does: 

Looking at Nina Simone’s statue in downtown Tryon, I recite the end of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem, “Archaic Torso of Apollo,” which reads, “for here there is no place / that does not see you. You must change your life.” Rilke wrote the poem while staring, entranced, at a headless statue from Auguste Rodin that dazzled him to the point of imperative transformation. Now, almost exactly one hundred years later, I am standing in front of the eight-foot bronze statue of Nina Simone.

I find most of the music I really love through books or stories about it online; I found Nina Simone through Joyce Maynard’s book Where Love Goes. As with everything Maynard writes, the book isn’t great but parts of it are. It was a review copy sent to the paper where I worked; I ripped out the pages I liked and kept them. They’re in a box somewhere. Maynard’s main character loves Nina Simone, and since I loved the character, I went looking for what she loved.

(I found Leonard Cohen through fanfiction, read him as a poet before I heard him sing.)

The first time I heard Sinnerman I listened to it on repeat for four days. Then I watched the documentary about her life, I watched her interviews, I watched every performance I could find. We find the words we need when we need them and oh, we are going to the devil and he is waiting.

A.

A Product of Their Times

Apropos of being reminded of the existence of an acquaintance I’d memory-holed but apparently forgotten to unfriend, nothing makes me crazier than the idea that someone was just A PRODUCT OF THEIR TIME. Oh, he’s an old man, let him be racist and sexist and garbage and shitty to you and in front of you, he’s a product of his time.

You know who else was a product of their time?

Sophie Scholl.

Sojourner Truth.

Fred Hampton.

Every single goddamn Freedom Rider.

Ida B. Wells was a product of her time.

Nellie Bly, too.

Every last one of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Dick Winters was a product of his time.

Crispus Attucks was a product of his time.

My friend Bob is 100 years old. The last time I saw him and we talked about current events, he stood up and said, “I was antifa before Hitler came to power.” Also, a product of his time.

The problem with the story that we are helpless in the face of the events that shape us is that there have always been people who can see through that crap and who have said that’s enough. That’s why we get better, Jesus, because people decide they’ve had it and want change.

When I was researching one of my books (more on that later today) I came across people who protested for open housing and what we now call marriage equality — in 1910. There have always been people who realize there’s only one rule and it’s if you have power you can use it to crush or you can use it to care for.

We just don’t usually idolize those people until they’re dead. Until WE need them, to make ourselves feel better or justify our complacency because they already won the fight we’re still in the middle of.

Everyone is a product of their time. That’s not a validation of us, it’s an indictment of the times, and it’s never, ever, ever an excuse to hurt anyone else, in word or deed. Because if people could stand up for one another when it was necessary, not just when there was a critical mass of people to protect them, then what is our excuse?

A.

Not Everything Sucks

Can’t stop the celebration signal: 

A huge part of Ramadan is about the community, Ismail said. Not just getting together with family and friends for iftar meals to break fast at the end of the day, but eating with strangers and gathering with large groups to celebrate in the mosque. He wanted to try to emulate that in a game that has been so appealing to people in quarantine precisely because of the community aspect.

He put out a call on Twitter, offering to host people to celebrate Ramadan on his island, and very quickly got a lot of responses from friends, internet acquaintances, and complete strangers. There was so much interest that he had to create a sign-up tool to ensure everyone could be distributed to different meals throughout the month (Animal Crossing only allows eight people to visit an island at one time).

Ismail decided to start hosting iftars and suhoors (the early morning meal before the sunrises) on Animal Crossing. He said so far he’s had 70 to 80 people visit his island for Ramadan, which began on April 23.

Eid Mubarak, everybody!

A.

ps. I do not have Animal Crossing, you cannot sell me any apples or whatever, but you do you.

Not Everything Sucks

The bees on the roof of the library are okay:

A.