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Thursday, October 19, 2017

What Fresh Hell? for October 19, 2017: Phone calls, supine Scout leaders, and a Marble who lost hers long since.



Shortly after taking office, Senator Thom Tillis complained that making food servers wash their hands in the restroom was government overreach.


Yesterday I wondered what could be more tasteless than MOTUS’ recasting of Antigone as a one-character show.


Senator Thom Tillis, of my own Tar Hell State, was quick to fill the lacuna:


A Republican senator says President Trump has shown more respect for U.S. troops during his first nine months in office than former President Barack Obama did in two terms.

Trump "has shown more respect for our troops in the first nine months then the prior president did in his eight years of office," Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) told reporters in the wake of Trump’s remarks on reaching out to families of fallen U.S. service members.

“The president shows a lot of respect for our troops, up to and including the practice that we’ve seen in certain professional teams to not respect the image of the flag that these men and women are fighting and dying for — so I think he’s done a good job," Tillis said.


Having leapt into the lead as the Senate’s moron, Tillis deserves his own acronym: SMOTUS.


And no, Senator Tillis is not a veteran. He is, however, dumb enough to have married and divorced the same woman twice. Slow learner, our Tom. The pace of the Senate helps him use that to seem “deliberative.”


*****


Cub Scout Ames Mayfield (right; Video screenshot courtesy of Lori Mayfield)




A Cub Scout in Broomfield has been kicked out of his den, allegedly for asking pointed questions of a Colorado state senator at meeting organized by the Boy Scouts.

Eleven-year-old Ames Mayfield, a fifth-grader at Prospect Ridge Academy and a Scout for five years, on Oct. 9 asked Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins, questions about gun control, and about comments Marble made at a 2013 legislative hearing on poverty about mortality rates among African-Americans.

The boy’s mother, Lori Mayfield, on Wednesday said Ames was kicked out of his den, or Scout group, as a result.

“He is still kind of reeling from this,” Mayfield said. “He is really sensitive, my heart breaks for him.”

Ames’ questions, and other Scouts’ questions, were recorded and posted on YouTube by Mayfield in a video titled “Vicki Marble denies chicken-gate.”

“I was astonished that you blamed black people for poor health and poverty because of all the chicken and barbecue they eat,” Ames said to Marble at the Scout meeting.

“I didn’t, that was made up by the media,” Marble replied. “So, you want to believe it? You believe it. But that’s not how it went down. I didn’t do that. That was false. Get both sides of the story.”

In 2013 Marble said: “When you look at life expectancy, there are problems in the black race. Sickle-cell anemia is something that comes up. Diabetes is something that’s prevalent in the genetic makeup, and you just can’t help it.*

“Although I’ve got to say,” she continued at the time. “I’ve never had better barbecue and better chicken and ate better in my life than when you go down South and you, I mean, I love it. Everybody loves it.”

On Oct. 9, at the den presentation, Marble, speaking to the Scouts in calm, measured tones, responded, in part, to Ames’ question: “We have multicultural foods in the United States and we are very blessed to have it. And we all love it and we all eat it. And we just better figure out our genetics.”

Marble went on to tell the Scouts that she’s from a multi-ethnic background that includes “black, Mexican…Jew…Native American” and the “lousy Irish!” People in the audience chuckled.

“Decisions about who is in or out of a den are internal organizational matters that I won’t second guess,” Marble, majority caucus chair, said Wednesday night in an email to The Post. “I don’t blame the boy for asking the questions, since I believe there was an element of manipulation involved, and it wasn’t much different from the questions I normally field in other meetings. The invitation to meet with the scouts was never intended to cause friction and controversy.”

Prior to the den meeting, Ames researched Marble, his mother said, as the Scouts knew she would be speaking. Ames formulated the questions he would ask, she said.

“The only coaching I gave him was to be respectful,” Mayfield said. “Don’t be argumentative, preface things ‘with all due respect.'”

A den leader was upset by Ames’ line of questioning, Mayfield said. She is looking for a new den for Ames to join.

“I felt my son followed directions. He asked hard questions, but he was not disrespectful,” she said.


“The Denver Area Council is evaluating this matter closely and will treat all parties with dignity and respect,” said Nicole Cosme, marketing director of the Boy Scouts of America Denver Area Council.

Cosme added that the Boy Scouts is “a wholly nonpartisan organization and does not promote any one political position, candidate or philosophy.”

Other Scouts asked Marble about the border wall, fossil fuels, and voting for President Barack Obama. No other Scout was dismissed from the den, Mayfield said.


When not condescending to kids or drawing a public salary, Marble runs two bail bond shops and a liquor store.


*****




He largely succeeded. The question is whether MOTUS will, for once, STFU and let this pass, or start slinging poo again, given that the Chief of Staff chided the congresswoman who listened in on the call.


General Kelly, in sharp contrast to his nominal superior, uses words carefully. So it is interesting to see that he advised the *resident not to make calls, and that the *resident’s four calls to the Niger Green Beret casualties’ families were, in fact, the first he has made, contra his Rose Garden bleating:


When I took this job and talked to President Trump about how to do it, my first recommendation was he not do it because it’s not the phone call that parents, family members are looking forward to. It’s nice to do, in my opinion, in any event.

He asked me about previous Presidents, and I said, I can tell you that President Obama, who was my Commander-in-Chief when I was on active duty, did not call my family. That was not a criticism. That was just to simply say, I don’t believe President Obama called. That’s not a negative thing. I don’t believe President Bush called in all cases. I don’t believe any President, particularly when the casualty rates are very, very high — that Presidents call. But I believe they all write.

So when I gave that explanation to our President three days ago, he elected to make phone calls in the cases of four young men who we lost in Niger at the earlier part of this month. But then he said, how do you make these calls? If you’re not in the family, if you’ve never worn the uniform, if you’ve never been in combat, you can’t even imagine how to make that call.


Nor did General Kelly deny that the *resident uttered the tone-deaf condolences the *resident has denied:


So he called four people the other day and expressed his condolences in the best way that he could. And he said to me, what do I say? I said to him, sir, there’s nothing you can do to lighten the burden on these families.

Well, let me tell you what I told him. Let me tell you what my best friend, Joe Dunford, told me — because he was my casualty officer. He said, Kel, he was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1 percent. He knew what the possibilities were because we’re at war. And when he died, in the four cases we’re talking about, Niger, and my son’s case in Afghanistan — when he died, he was surrounded by the best men on this Earth: his friends.

That’s what the President tried to say to four families the other day.


Had he stuck to what General Kelly told him, MOTUS would have done better. But he always knows better, and he lacks the grace to ever, ever admit he might have done anything better. He is, after all, a man who has never asked God to forgive him for a single thing in 71 depraved years:


"I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don't think so," he said. "I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don't bring God into that picture. I don't.




*****




Charlie Pierce reviews the terms of the general’s contract with the devil:


This strikes me as a terribly sad moment. Everything and everybody this president* touches goes bad from the inside out. And it doesn’t matter to me whether people volunteered to work for him or not. In Oliver Stone’s Nixon, there’s a great scene on the Key Bridge at night where Ed Harris’s Howard Hunt warns a very tremulous John Dean, played by David Hyde-Pierce. Nixon, Hunt tells Dean, “is the darkness reaching out for the darkness in everyone.” That was true, but this is what we know now: in this, Nixon was a rank amateur. From The New York Times:

Mr. Kelly said that he was stunned to see the criticism, which came from a Democratic congresswoman, Representative Frederica S. Wilson of Florida, after Mr. Trump delivered a similar message to the widow of one of the soldiers killed in Niger. Mr. Kelly said afterward that he had to collect his thoughts by going to Arlington National Cemetery for more than an hour. In a remarkable, somber appearance in the White House briefing room, Mr. Kelly, a retired Marine general whose son Second Lt. Robert Kelly was slain in battle in 2010, said he had told the president what he was told when he got the news.

“He was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed,” Mr. Kelly recalled. “He knew what he was getting into by joining that one percent. He knew what the possibilities were, because we were at war.” “I was stunned when I came to work yesterday, and brokenhearted, when I saw what a member of Congress was doing,” he said. “What she was saying, what she was doing on TV. The only thing I could do to collect my thoughts was to go walk among the finest men or women on this earth.”

That’s how he gets absolved. That’s how he always gets absolved. There’s always somebody willing to step up and push their soul to the middle of the table for him to gamble with and, when he loses, because he always loses at the game of being human, he reneges on the bet because that’s what he always does. Of all the “generals,” Kelly always was the one closest to being a true Trumpian; his tenure at Homeland Security overseeing ICE showed that Kelly at least was sympatico with the president*’s Id-driven hardbar approach to immigration.

And now, by deploying the memory of his son, he’s given his inexcusable boss that boss’s most recent alibi for that boss’s most recent offense against human decency and the dignity of his office. There’s a great sadness in that.


*****


#AltFacts Headline of the Day, from #AltRight Breitbart News:


Screenshot 2017-10-19 at 18.16.55 - Edited.png


President Bush 2 is, in fact, the third of his family to hold high office. His father was a congressman, representative to China, UN ambassador, CIA director, vice president, and president. His grandfather, Prescott Bush, was a senator from Connecticut in the 1950s.


*****


The mass conversion of American Christianists to transactional religious standards is but part of a larger trend. Pew Research reports,




As Time reported last year, evangelicals got the vision first:


In 2011 and again just ahead of the election, PRRI asked Americans whether a political leader who committed an immoral act in his or her private life could nonetheless behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public life. Back in 2011, consistent with the “values voter” brand’s insistence on the importance of personal character, only 30% of white evangelical Protestants agreed with this statement. But this year, 72% of white evangelicals now say they believe a candidate can build a kind of moral wall between his private and public life. In a shocking reversal, white evangelicals have gone from being the least likely to the most likely group to agree that a candidate’s personal immorality has no bearing on his performance in public office. Today, in fact, they are more likely than Americans who claim no religious affiliation at all to say such a moral bifurcation is possible.


_____________


*Wikipedia adds,

The Denver Post editorial board described Marble's comments as, "... finger-lickin' stupid."[10]

In comments to the press, Ryan Call, former chairman of the Colorado Republican Party distanced the party from Marble's comments. "Sen. Marble's careless comments do not reflect the views of Republicans," he said.  A prominent pro-Republican and conservative political blog, Colorado Peak Politics, said, "Marble is the latest legislator to join what might be kindly dubbed the "legislative moron caucus" after an ignorant and offensive soliloquy about race and diet."

In an interview with the Fort Collins Coloradoan, Marble remained "unapologetic."

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