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Thursday, November 15, 2018

But Jesus' self-appointed arbiter said, Suffer the big evangelical donors, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of Trump


FAMILY RESEARCH COUNCIL TOUR INCLUDES TRUMP HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS: The Family Research Council’s “Washington D.C. Christian Heritage Tour & Summit” in March is the latest conservative confab scheduled to take place at the Trump International Hotel. The three-night jaunt includes accommodations at the hotel and the possibility of a briefing at the White House, plus a day at the Museum of the Bible and a private tour of Capitol Hill, POLITICO’s Lorraine Woellert reports. Tickets start at $2,498 for a double-occupancy room. Evangelical conservatives helped propel President Donald Trump into office and Tony Perkins, the Family Research Council’s president, has been a staunch defender of the administration. Trump, in turn, has delivered on promises to nominate conservative judges and this week endorsed a prison-reform plan backed by religious groups.

— Perkins didn’t respond to requests for more information about the trip, nor did the White House. But government watchdogs had plenty to say. “It stinks,” said Norm Eisen, chairman of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and a frequent critic of the president’s. “It’s bad enough when there’s a tacit quid-pro-quo and people using the Trump hotel or other Trump properties to curry favor with the president,” Eisen continued. “Here you have something that breaks new ground because it at least raises the question of whether there’s a direct sale of access.”

— The junket is another example of why Trump should have divested from his businesses, said Delaney Marsco, a lawyer with the Campaign Legal Center. “We shouldn’t have to wonder if the president might give special treatment or consideration of policy ideas to folks who frequent his hotels,” Marsco said.

As US Attorney, he longed to get one

The acting attorney general of the United States was previously a concrete salesman, a daycare operator, and a con man:
World Patent Marketing promoted a “masculine toilet” meant for men who are so well endowed their junk dangles in the water. 

Straight, and narrow

Thomas Edsall, writing in The New York Times:

"Christopher Hooks, a freelance journalist based in Austin who often writes for the Texas Observer, has produced two nuanced analyses of the state of play in Texas politics, one in the Observer, the other in the Atlantic.

"In the Nov. 7 Observer, Hooks wrote:
"Something happened this year that has not happened before — Republican-leaning voters studied specific down-ballot races and broke ranks. That’s a terrible omen for Republicans, who spent the month before the election begging voters to vote straight-ticket R. Once voters get in the habit of splitting their ballot, they’re more likely to do so in the future."

"I am honored to represent my country, and grateful that sourcing trips will be so much easier!"

The president has named a handbag designer ambassador to the Republic of South Africa:
Marks is known for luxury handbags in exotic animal skins, such as ostrich and alligator, with prices that can hover above $19,000.

Edith Wilson would be impressed

Here is a question for Trump supporters.

Accepting, for the sake of argument, that all the things you admire about him are true: that he is a very stable genius; he has all the best words; he hires all the best people; he knows more about war than the generals and has a natural instinct for science; he has the best memory in the world; he did more than any other president in his first 100 days and passed the biggest, best laws ever (“I’ve passed a lot of legislative bills that people don’t even know about"); his biggest-ever inauguration crowd; his bigger rally audiences than Elton John, and all the rest- including evangelical claims that God chose him to be president despite being a walk, bellowing affront to the Ten Commandments- are you really OK with a fashion model directing personnel changes in the National Security Advisor's team?

"What is was, wasn't football"

Nothing is more badly reported by the media than a lawsuit, and no lawsuits are more badly reported than Florida elections lawsuits.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio- more a water boy than a coach on the best of days- played Sidelines Expert the other day as he tweeted from the partisan gutter:

The twitterverse promptly dispatched Little Marco to the locker room:

A Florida federal judge was not impressed:

Consider the game of football. Football fans may quibble about the substance of the rules, but no one quibbles that rules are necessary to play the game. See generally Nat’l Football League, 2018 Official Playing Rules of the National Football League (2018).

And no one quibbles that football referees make certain calls, under the rules, that deserve review. Indeed, not every call is going to be clear—the ultimate decision may hinge on highly subjective factors. Hence, a call will be overturned only when there is “clear and obvious visual evidence available that warrants the change.”

Among other things, the 2018 NFL Rules allow video review for plays involving possession, boundary lines, the line of scrimmage, and the goal line. See id. The NFL likewise provides review for disqualification of players. Id. Coaches may challenge calls themselves by throwing a red flag, or, in certain circumstances, the referees may initiate review on their own.

All that process. Just for a game.

In this case, the Plaintiffs have thrown a red flag. But this is not football. Rather, this is a case about the precious and fundamental right to vote—the right preservative of all other rights. And it is about the right of a voter to have his or her vote counted.

There is no doubt there must be election laws. There is no doubt that to run an election, the state must impose deadlines and rules to govern an efficient and transparent election process. There is no doubt that election officials must make certain calls, under the rules, that deserve review. And there is no doubt some of those calls may hinge on highly subjective factors. 

The precise issue in this case is whether Florida’s law that allows county election officials to reject vote-by-mail and provisional ballots for mismatched signatures—with no standards, an illusory process to cure, and no process to challenge the rejection— passes constitutional muster. The answer is simple. It does not.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A grossly overweight man who cannot walk very far and fears rain, building a 2000-mile wall? Well of course! God willed it.

Some awful company is out with a LEGO knockoff called “MAGA” where you can build a wall to keep out toy Mexicans, clad in sombreros, and wielding maracas. Fox & Friends covered the toy set repeatedly on Wednesday.

“They may look like LEGOs, but these building blocks are a little different,” Steve Doocy announced. “The toy company that’s making the holidays great again? Wait until you hear about this.”

The box of the toy set features Trump, in a suit, standing on one side of the wall. Behind the structure, a mustachioed figurine wearing a sombrero and a poncho is armed with maracas. He stands between cactuses at the foot of a Mexican-style pyramid.

Later on Fox & Friends, newsreader Jillian Mele covered the toy set during headlines: “Take a look at this, a conservative company introducing a new line of toys encouraging kids to build a wall with MAGA building blocks. The set comes with a President Trump figurine and a ‘Make America Great Again’ hard hat.”

The Trump toy is also shown handing an “emails” file to a Hillary Clinton figurine, who is naturally clad in an orange jumpsuit.

“If you like toys…” Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade reacted.

“A gift for the kids or for like, the Trump voter?” asked Ainsley Earhardt.

“Both!” Mele replied.

And yet, somehow, liberals keep not winning secular power

The yob Liberty University funded a movie by claiming God chose Donald Trump to be president, is at it again.

“He changed his Twitter background to you see him standing there with his arms crossed in front of JFK’s gravesite and he’s got his hands together with his two fingers, like he is giving a code. People aren’t stupid. It looks like there is something being given off in the spirit by what he is doing. These guys have code words, they have symbolism, they don’t have to come right out and say something to activate these people. These guys are totally demonic when it comes to this stuff. They’re using the mind control, they are using the activation codes to activate these guys.” – Self-proclaimed prophet Mark Taylor, about whom Liberty University just released a movie.

PREVIOUSLY ON JMG: Mark Taylor claims Democrats created Hurricane Michael to help “communist” Andrew Gillum suppress votes in Florida’s panhandle. Mark Taylor claims liberals created Hurricane Michael as retaliation for Kavanaugh’s confirmation. Mark Taylor claims liberals created Hurricane Florence to wash away evidence of voter fraud in North Carolina. Mark Taylor claims that John McCain was secretly executed for treason by a military tribunal on Trump’s orders. Mark Taylor predicts that liberals will create hurricanes during the midterms to suppress pro-Trump voters. Mark Taylor predicts that God will have former presidents executed for daring to criticize Trump. Mark Taylor declares that Trump will release the secret cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s during his second term. Mark Taylor reveals that Freemasons are using a secret frequency to make people hate Trump. Mark Taylor reveals that God personally gave him a secret prayer that “jams the radar” of Democrats.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

"Daddy, can I have better sales for Christmas? It's me, Eric...your son?"

Another "Baltic/Balkans" moment

The president denounced Europe for not contributing enough to its own defense.

So the president of France called for a European Army. Trump denounced that, too.

Oh, well, Walmart will need another warehouse somewhere.

More like a merry-go-round, really

We also have a bit of an odd situation where two members who haven’t even been sworn in are already doomed to leave the House in 2018. Both Democrat Brenda Jones and Republican Marty Nothstein appear to have won special elections to serve out the remainders of congressional terms previously held by Democratic Rep. John Conyers (Michigan 13th) and Republican Rep. Charlie Dent (the pre-redistricting Pennsylvania 15th). Nothstein only leads by 58 votes in his special election, so it’s still possible that he will not be elected at all, but assuming he holds on to win, it is unclear if either Nothstein or Jones will actually take their seats in Congress for the next two months because they may have to give up their local office positions to do so.

-Geoffrey Skelley, "There Was A Lot Of Turnover In The House In The 2018 Cycle,", November 13, 2018

"We shall escape the absurdity of growing a whole chicken in order to eat the breast or wing, by growing these parts separately under a suitable medium."

On balance, a better statesman than a seer:

The discovery and control of such sources of power would cause changes in human affairs incomparably greater than those produced by the steam-engine four generations ago. Schemes of cosmic magnitude would become feasible. Geography and climate would obey our orders. Fifty thousand tons of water, the amount displaced by the Berengaria, would, if exploited as described, suffice to shift Ireland to the middle of the Atlantic. The amount of rain falling yearly upon the Epsom racecourse would be enough to thaw all the ice at the Arctic and Antarctic poles. The changing of one element into another by means of temperatures and pressures would be far beyond our present reach, would transform beyond all description our standards of values. Materials thirty times stronger than the best steel would create engines fit to bridle the new forms of power. Communications and transport by land, water and air would take unimaginable forms, if, as is in principle possible, we could make an engine of 600 horsepower, weighing 20 lb and carrying fuel for a thousand hours in a tank the size of a fountain-pen. Wireless telephones and television, following naturally upon their present path of development, would enable their owner to connect up with any room similarly installed, and hear and take part in the conversation as well as if he put his head in through the window. The congregation of men in cities would become superfluous. It would rarely be necessary to call in person on any but the most intimate friends, but if so, excessively rapid means of communication would be at hand. 

-Winston S. Churchill, "Fifty Years Hence," The Strand Magazine, December 1931

Masters of their domains? Only up to a point

Proud Boys founder Gavin MacInnes

The altercation between the Proud Boys members and anti-fascist protesters, or antifa, broke out about a block away when six people dressed in black and wearing masks confronted Proud Boys members, NYPD's Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said Oct 15. One of those dressed in black threw a bottle at the Proud Boys group and a fight ensued for about 38 seconds until uniformed officers intervened.

-Peter Martinez, "3 more Proud Boys members arrested for violent NYC brawl,", October 22, 2018.

Further outside the mainstream, the far-right Proud Boys group has a “no wanks” policy, which prohibits masturbating more than once a month. The group’s founder, Gavin McInnes, who also co-founded Vice Media, has said that pornography and masturbation are making Millennials “not even want to pursue relationships.”

-Kate Julian, "Why Are Young People Having So Little Sex?", The Atlantic, December 2018.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

With celebs running the gamut of Lists- A to Z List- the GOP has turned its back on their increasingly dim starpower

In 2012, the Republican National Committee created the Growth & Opportunity project to analyze why the party lost the presidential election.

Among its report's scores of recommendations was this one:

Establish an RNC Celebrity Task Force of personalities in the entertainment industry
to host events for the RNC and allow donors to participate in entertainment events
as a way to attract younger voters.

Now- after decades of trying to make inroads into La-La-Land, the GOP has turned its back on its ability to produce nominating convention events like "Night of A Few Stars":
 At a pre-election rally, [Vice Pfresident Pence] taunted Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams and her supporters in entertainment: “This ain’t Hollywood. This is Georgia.”
Celebrity political activism apparently wasn’t enough to snag Abrams the victory on Tuesday in Georgia, where she was weighed down by the state’s Republican lean and intense voter suppression efforts. But Pence’s scorn for Hollywood, now a set piece in Republican politics, is a relatively recent development. There was a time when Republicans welcomed Hollywood and used its glamour to win over voters. But today, the GOP has settled on a narrow electoral strategy — appealing to a minority of voters — in which Hollywood is better as a foil than as an ally.
Bad news for these idols of today's youth:

Tim Allen, 65
Scott Baio, 58
Stephen Baldwin, 52
Pat Boone, 84
Morgan Brittany, 47
Jerry Bruckheimer, 75
James Caan, 78
Adam Carolla, 54
Michael Damian, 56
Stacey Dash, 51
Robert Duvall, 87
Clint Eastwood, 88
Sarah Michelle Gellar, 41
Jim Fitzpatrick, 59
Kelsey Grammer, 63
Patricia Heaton, 60
Dwayne Johnson, 46
John O'Hurley, 64
Donny Osmond, 61
Marie Osmond, 59
David Lee Roth, 64
Antonio Sabato, Jr., 46
Arnold Schwarzenegger, 71
Tom Selleck, 73
Gene Simmons, 69
Gary Sinise, 63
Janine Turner, 55
Jean-Claude Van Damme, 58
Jon Voight, 79
Bruce Willis, 63
James Woods, 71
Yeezy, 41

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Stuff I read today, 11/1/18

"When reporters asked President Trump last week if he bore any responsibility for the pipe bombs sent to many of his critics and adversaries, he declared his innocence: “Not at all, no. There is no blame. There is no anything.”

-Thomas B. Edsall, "The Trump Legions," The New York Times

The Pulitzer Prize-nominated columnist considered studies analyzing the bases for the president's sometimes inexplicable bases of support. Bottom line: they are outraged by growing income inequality- which has left them out- and the feeling they are losing their culture war upper hand to force others out of their communities and worldviews.

"In the Kavanaugh hearing, I thought, this girl is lying. Then I talked with my sisters, who helped me see that I was looking at it through the lens of a Republican, not the lens of a Christian. She deserved just as much grace as Kavanaugh did."

-Elizabeth Dias, "‘God Is Going to Have to Forgive Me’: Young Evangelicals Speak Out," The New York Times

Making their way down the spiritual cafeteria line, evangelicals in their 20s and 30s cherish pretty much the same bigotries their parents do. They just don't think a little arugula or kale on the side makes them Communists.

"President Trump defended his proclivity to spread misleading statements and falsehoods, saying in a television interview Wednesday that he tells the truth when he can.

“Well, I try. I do try . . . and I always want to tell the truth,” Trump said in an interview with ABC News. “When I can, I tell the truth. And sometimes it turns out to be where something happens that’s different or there’s a change, but I always like to be truthful.”

-John Wagner, ‘When I can, I tell the truth’: Trump pushes back against his peddling of falsehoods,", The Washington Post

The president's daily lie meter is ticking at 8.3.

"Elizabeth’s 1584 patent charged Raleigh “to discover, search, find out, and view such remote, heathen and barbarous lands, countries, and territories, not actually possessed of any Christian prince, not inhabited by Christian people… to have, hold, occupy & enjoy..."

Ed Simon, "Reading Walter Raleigh’s Poetry of Blood," Berfrois

A truly exceptional writer, Simon considers the buccaneer backer of North Carolina settlement through many lenses, including Good Queen Bess sending him out with a rough draft of the Star Trek charter. Among Simon's most interesting points is that while the Spanish and Portuguese explored and wrote about the real New World, Raleigh saw it as a state of mind, where, once arrived, people could make their own realities.

"We spoke – of course – about Classics. I wanted her to sell me our subject: “Classics is a particularly privileged discipline,” she responds, “because of the way the subject has been defined as not simply Latin and Greek literature but a wide swath of cultural and intellectual studies – it’s going to continue to think hard.”

"Beard concedes – rightly – that there’s something Victorian about the oft-repeated claim that studying the classics teaches you how to think – what does knowing ‘how to think’ mean? “It’s about learning to not just think,” she clarifies, “it’s about learning to make a plausible, convincing, analytical argument. It introduces you to how people research, find out, analyze, structure and argue.”

"Of course, this is the great virtue of studying a humanities degree, where you are taught not just how to work the answer out but how to persuade your interlocutor that your stance is correct.

"I ask Beard about that perennial concern of humanities graduates – the jobs market. She laughs: “It would be a sad day for the planet if employers did not value skills of argument, research and analysis, and I don’t see any signs of that being seriously challenged. We’re not in a position where there are these poor old classicists who are not getting jobs, whereas people who’ve done astrophysics are slipping effortlessly into employment.”

"So, if it’s the training in careful analysis and thoughtful debate which marks out the humanities, then what similarly distinguishes Beard is her almost total willingness to thoughtfully engage with people who disagree with her. Famously, she once took a Twitter troll out for lunch, and after an online fracas concerning the fall of the Roman Empire, she met with arch-Brexiteer Arron Banks, which was recorded by the Guardian. In a world where it seems impossible for people with differing political views to hold a conversation that doesn’t turn into a flame war, the description of their mostly genial conversation made cheering reading."

-Barney Pite, "Mary Beard interview – “The ancient world is a safe space for arguing”, Cherwell

There is no one in America like Cambridge prof Mary Beard. In this interview with my old grad school days journalism hangout, she explores why a liberal arts view is absolutely necessary and yet incredibly frustrating in the age of alternate facts.

"Hundreds of books have been donated to the northwest Iowa library where a man checked out — and then burned — several LGBTQ children’s books weeks ago.

"The Orange City Public Library said Wednesday it has received more than 200 books since religious activist Paul Dorr engaged in a book burning Oct. 19.

"Together, several GoFundMe pages and Facebook fundraisers have raised thousands of dollars for the library — much more than the roughly $50 needed to replace the burned books.

"In protest of the city’s second annual OC Pride, Dorr threw four library books into a burning trash can while streaming live on Facebook."

-Shelby Fleig, "After man burns LGBTQ children's books, donations to Orange City library skyrocket," Des Moines (IA) Register

As Mark Noll opened his 1993 book, "The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind,"  "The scandal of the evangelical mind is there is not much of an evangelical mind." 

"On October 17, 2018, President Trump announced that the United States will withdraw from the Universal Postal Union (UPU), an intergovernmental organization that sets the rules and rates for international mail delivery."

-Eliot Kim, "Withdrawal from the Universal Postal Union: A Guide for the Perplexed," Lawfare

Apparently, writing letters to people overseas is contra#MAGA.

"Nigel Richards, 51 and from New Zealand, beat Californian Jesse Day in the final at the Westfield center in west London on Sunday.

"Groutier - which means more cross, sulky or sullen - scored 68 points.

"Mr Richards, who also won the French-language title this year, said: "It was a closely fought championship and Jesse was a very impressive opponent."

"Mr Richards' other high-scoring words in the final included zonular, which means like a zone and earned 100 points, and phenolic, a synthetic resin, which earned 84 points.

-BBC News, "Sulky word wins Scrabble championship"

Zut Alors! A Kiwi who can't speak French won A French Scrabble title.

"If it matters enough to be careful, it matters enough to build a system around it."

Seth Godin's last word for today.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Hurricane Pat petered out in the Pacific in 1982, but the landlocked blowhard wheezes on

God’s weatherman, Pat Robertson, is at it again.

The 88-year-old has commanded Hurricane Florence to stand down. The Hill reports that yesterday, he tottered into a TV studio to admonish the storm:

“In the name of Jesus, you Hurricane Florence, we speak to you in the name of Jesus, and we command the storm to cease its forward motion and go harmlessly into the Atlantic,” Robertson said.

“Go up north away from land and veer off in the name of Jesus. We declare in the name of the lord that you shall go no farther, you shall do no damage in this area,” the evangelical leader continued.

“He went on to declare a “shield of protection” over parts where “innocent people” are bracing for the hurricane, which is already reportedly packing winds of up to 140 mph, according to CNN.

“In Jesus’ holy name, be out to sea!” Robertson continued.

“He also said that the “shield” has worked in the against previous hurricanes.

“It’s almost hilarious to see them try,” he said. “They try to get in and they can’t, and then they go north and they turn around, try to come back in. They can’t do it.”

Robertson’s announcement is the latest example of vainglory and decline (at 76, he claimed a God-inspired protein shake enabled him to leg-press one ton of weight) in the failed GOP presidential candidate.

On the June 8, 1998, edition of his show, he denounced Orlando, Florida and Disney World for allowing a privately sponsored "Gay Days" weekend, declaring that the acceptance of homosexuality could result in hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, terrorist bombings and "possibly a meteor.”

The resulting outcry prompted Robertson to return to the topic on June 24, where he quoted the Book of Revelation to support his claims.

The first hurricane of the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season, Hurricane Bonnie, actually turned away from Florida and instead damaged the rest of the East Coast. The area hardest hit by the hurricane was the Hampton Roads region, which includes Virginia Beach, home of Robertson’s TV empire and christianist recreation of a madrasa, Regent University (Robertson, with health-food evangelist Jerry Falwell, also blamed gays, lesbians, pro-choice activists, and “perversity” for the 6.7 magnitude earth that hit the San Fernando Valley in 1994, causing around $25 billion in damage and 72 deaths, and the 9/11 attacks on The Gays, too).

TV preachers pretty much agree LGBT Americans have a connection to severe weather but tend to fall out over the details. Last year, death-to-gays Pastor Kevin Swanson said the path of Hurricane Irma would be altered by God if the Supreme Court quickly made abortion and gay marriage illegal, "before Irma does her damage," as Right Wing Watch noted (he also claimed Harvey was due to Houston electing an out lesbian, Annise Parker, as mayor; the fact that Parker had already left office last year didn’t seem to matter. God has a long memory).

He also blamed Harvey on Texas’ failure to pass a bathroom bill, saying “Jesus sends the message home, unless Americans repent, unless Houston repents…they will all likewise perish.”.

Radio preacher Rick Wiles, likewise, said Houston is underwater because it "boasted of its LGBT devotion."

Pat Robertson had nothing to say about last fall’s one-two punch from the cloud-whispering gays.

The Carolinas have been punished before over their flaccid response to the presence of The Gays. Hurricane Matthew plastered the east coast from Florida up, causing widespread damage in North and South Carolina. Andrew Bieszad, a contributor to, a popular anti-gay, Christian extremist website, explained that God is sent the hurricane as “a sign of His anger” against America for tolerating homosexuality (curiously, no one used God’s wrath as a reason not to repeal North Carolina’s spiteful antigay law, HB2, passed just a few months before the 2016 hurricane season began).

Family Research Council honcho and Louisiana Baptist minister Tony Perkins struck out in the 2015 hurricane season. He pinpointed the devastation that occurred in Hawaii after Hurricane Joaquin in 2015 as an example, saying it was punishment for marriage equality and abortion. He got the same warning from Messianic Jewish pastor Jonathan Cahn who told him that Hurricane Joaquin, which devastated Hawaii, was a "sign of God's wrath".

During the interview, Mr Cahn stated that the storm was a sign God was angry about the legalization of gay marriage and abortion and the relationship between the United Nations and Israel.

He's quoted as agreeing, adding "God is trying to send us a message".

Ironically, Perkins’ Louisiana home was destroyed by a flood in 2016. Perkins downplayed the significance of the smiting:

“This is a flood of near-biblical proportions," he said in an interview with the Family Research Council.
"We had to escape from our home Saturday by canoe. We had about 10 feet of water at the end of our driveway. Our house flooded, a few of our cars flooded."

Robertson hedged his bets explaining Katrina, suggesting that God withdrew some kind of special protection from the U.S. “Have we,” he asked at one point, “found we are unable somehow to defend ourselves against some of the attacks that are coming against us, either by terrorists or now by natural disaster?”

Dateline Hollywood promptly ran a satirical piece claiming that the evangelical leader had said that “Hurricane Katrina was God’s way of expressing [His] anger at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for its selection of Ellen Degeneres to host this year’s Emmy Awards,” many took the story as gospel and cited it, rather than Robertson’s actual statements, as indicative of evangelical Christianity’s response to the disaster.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy ravaged the Eastern seaboard in 2012, prompting British preacher John McTernan to say President Barack Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage was to blame. He also claimed both Obama and opponent Mitt Romney “are pro-homosexual and are behind the homosexual agenda” and that “America is under political judgment and the church does not know it!”

In New York, where lower Manhattan was flooded out, one minister of a Black Protestant congregation in hard-hit Far Rockaway claimed that the storm was God’s way of demonstrating his power to the “rich” and “gay” elites of Manhattan. In another example, the pastor of a predominantly black Seventh-Day Adventist Church said that our increasingly erratic weather was a sign of “the last days,” urging his congregants that they should turn quickly to Jesus to help them endure the difficult times ahead.

American Family Association’s Buster Wilson, the general manager of their radio network, blamed Hurricane Isaac on the city of New Orleans for hosting Southern Decadence, the annual LGBT festival in 2012.

Pam Olsen, the founder of the Florida Prayer Network, believed that marriage equality and ordination of gay priests could lead to floods, fires, and tornadoes.

In 2005, Rev. Franklin Graham blamed Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans’ “orgies”; and Catholic priest Gerhard Wagner called Katrina “divine retribution” for New Orleans’ tolerance of homosexuality. Rev. John Hagee waddled out of his San Antonio megachurch to bleat the same message: Mr. Hagee said that the storm was God’s punishment for its sinful ways, a common trope among conservative evangelists. Those sins included a gay pride parade that was scheduled for the same day that Katrina made landfall.

“New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they were recipients of the judgment of God for that,” Mr. Hagee said in an interview on NPR in 2006. “Hurricane Katrina was, in fact, the judgment of God against the City of New Orleans.”

Robertson’s witchcrafty spell to protect his property holdings has prompted one skeptic to tweet, “So if Florence pounds the Eastern Seaboard it’ll be the LGBTQs’ fault, I assume. So are they more powerful than Jesus, Pat Robertson?”

The comment underlines one of the more vexing challenges of being one of God’s self-appointed press secretaries: more often than not, they make God out to be a right bungler whose misses more than he hits when smitings are called for in the modern world.

Equally curiously, no in the GOP wondered about God’s mood when He sent a hurricane to Tampa, causing the foreshortening of their 2012 presidential nominating convention.

Friday, July 27, 2018

A Gardener's Diary, 7/27/18:

I am playing Amateur Archaeologist outside my suite at the plantation. With a cool morning for a change, I made good headway clearing an old brick terrace.

To the left is a strip of ground I've cleared for a small afternoon sun/shade garden; to the right is about 50 square feet of three-hole brick with grass up out of every damned one. I feel my life force seeping away just looking at it.

But in Charlotte, I left much the same during three months of digging out 1800 square feet of grass but leaving behind several hundred square feet of moss to expand. Once I get over the OMG phase, the work turns into a sort of zen experience.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Alive today, would Brillat-Savarin say, "Tell me where you vote, and I'll tell you who you are?"

Waldo's Journal starts its twelfth year today. I've been studying a New York Times map that drills down to the precinct level for the whole of the US for the 2016 presidential election. 

It's a neat way to find out if I've been in liberal or conservative silos over the years. Sampling the places I've lived the last half century, the answer is, "Yes." Some liberal, some conservative, some competitive, some enclaves of one party surrounded by great swathes of support for the other.

Raeford, NC, 1960-65

Shelby, NC, 1965-1974
In 1974-80 I was in college/graduate school but still voted absentee in Shelby.

Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA, 1980-1990

Kelso/Longview, WA, 1990-1993

Seattle, WA, where I was elected a Republican precinct officer in 1998.

Port Angeles, WA, 2006-2008

Greer/Greenville, SC 2008-13

Charlotte, NC, 2013-18

This district was declared illegally gerrymandered by Republicans who made it a minority-majority district to make the ones around it more white and Republican.

Chester, SC, 2018-

My area elects both Republicans and Democrats. I like having real choices!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Bastille Day, 2018

Hilary Mantel, A Place of Greater Safety, 1992:

“At first they’d thought the guillotine would be a sweet, clean business, but when you have twenty, perhaps thirty heads to take off in a day, there are problems of scale.”

Friday, July 13, 2018

Texas pol: a second term for me means no more happy endings for you

Image result for greg abbott

The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, a wheelchair-bound man who wants to repeal the Americans With Disabilities Act, is on a new moral crusade: he says there are more whorehouses in Houston than Starbucks.

This confuses me. It's not like he will lose. His opponent is a Hispanic lesbian ex-sheriff.

There are three reasons Abbott doesn't know his own party's catechism.

First, the governor ought to be promoting locally-owned businesses over a chain run from liberal Seattle. In the view of Texas Republicans, Seattle needs no brothels because all of its residents are sex fiends. Indeed, The Stranger, a local weekly, once described Seattle's bathhouses as "whorehouses staffed by volunteers."

Second, it seems like an apples and oranges comparison. Why pick Starbucks? Everyone knows you can't get laid at a Starbucks. Hell, if you're black, you can't even sit down.

Why not compare numbers with gas stations, or vape shops, or dry cleaners, or Baptist churches whose members are surely among the sex clubs' patrons?

Third, a brothel owner in Nevada is a GOP nominee for the Nevada legislature. Big whoop! as Suzanne Sugarbaker used to cry. US Senator from Iowa Roger Jepsen lost his seat for doing research in one in what he called a moment of weakness and voter intolerance. Since that 1984 race, Iowa was gotten way more tolerant of GOP sexual mores.

Louisiana Senator David Vitter got major mileage points for his visits to brothels in DC and N'awlins and his wife has been paid off with a federal judgeship.

Jack Ryan, the 2004 Republican Senate nominee in Illinois (opposing Barack Obama), had to bail out after his ex-wife claimed he dragged her along to his fave brothels (she didn't get a federal judgeship).

Republican national conventions are legendary for their demand for pop-up male escort services.

It's all about free men and free markets, Governor Abbott. Adam Smith would call it capitalism's invisible handjob.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Recycling History, or why Dennis Rodman may or may not be one of the President's chosen Negroes

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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Defying evangelical norms, a Trump cabinet member's anxious to put his wife to work in a fast food franchise.

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40,000 people a year seek a Chik-fil-A franchise each year.

100 people get one.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt didn't like those odds. So he told his aide to get Mr Cathy on the phone for him.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Conservatives cry, "Let us eat cake!" but they will find the portions are very small indeed.

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This morning the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling on whether a Colorado Christianist baker can legally refuse to make a wedding cake for a same-sex couple despite the state's anti-discrimination law's inclusion of sexual orientation as a protected class.

There are several things to know at the top. One is that the decision was 7-2, not an ideologically-driven 5-4.

Another is that Justice Kennedy- who has written all the major LGBT rights decisions of the Court- wrote this one. He did not give away the store.

The third thing is that the Court made a very narrow ruling. They found that the Colorado antidiscrimination commission didn't give the bakery owner's arguments a fair shake, so the Court overturned the commission's ruling that he violated the Colorado anti-discrimination law.

There is no big national rule in this case.

Justice Kennedy determined that religious freedom and its expression is important, but so is the right of LGBT Americans to walk into a store open to the public and not get dissed and denied service.

How to resolve that tension, the Court did not decide. The Court as an institution generally tries to limit its rulings to avoid unintended consequences, and it did so today.

By finding that the state of Colorado didn't give the baker's views a fair hearing, Justice Kennedy linked his decision to another care he decided in 1993, Romer vs. Colorado. In that case, voters passed a statewide referendum overturning all state and local LGBT anti-discrimination ordinances and laws and banned any new ones.

Kennedy's Romer decision held that a government entity cannot act against a defined group based purely on not liking who they are, or what they believe. Grounding the cake case in that reasoning, Kennedy preserved the body of law that has followed protecting and advancing LGBT equality.

I feared a more expansive ruling in which religious freedom claims could become a pretext for avoiding any law. Religious freedom advocates feared their First Amendment rights being subordinated by law to LGBT rights.

As neatly as a Gordian knot can be sliced, the case today did.

However- and there is always one of those- that will not end the debate. Since the baker won, evangelicals and gay-bashers will rejoice. They will also launch endless new cases trying to expand this toehold.

That is of a piece with their strategy against marriage equality, where they are adopting their anti-abortion playbook of reducing the Obergefell decision to a hollow shell by passing streams of laws chipping away at its substance.

In Republican-controlled states, look for a rush to amend state religious freedom laws with extreme extensions of the court's result, not its analysis. We see this, also, in the anti-abortion campaign: extreme laws are being passed precisely to create test cases to be rushed to the Supreme Court, because Gorsuch.

There are several concurrences to the Court's opinions today. Those get made when justices agree with the result but want to rearrange the furniture a bit. The conservative justices want to tilt the reasoning their way; the liberals, theirs.

The genius and the frustration of our legal system is that no question is settled forever. Everyone gets a chance to fight another day.

So Justice Gorsuch got a chance to publish another long, windy concurrence in which he manages to ape dear Justice Scalia's anger but not his intelligence or wit.

And Justice Thomas used his to work through some more of his unresolved racial issues ("Moreover, it is also hard to see how Phillips’ statement is worse than the racist, demeaning, and even threatening speech toward blacks that this Court has tolerated in previous decisions. Concerns about “dignity” and “stigma” did not carry the day when this Court affirmed the right of white supremacists to burn a 25-foot cross; conduct a rally on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday; or circulate a film featuring hooded Klan members who were brandishing weapons and threatening to “‘Bury the niggers." (citations omitted)).

The thing to remember is that this is a 7-2 decision written by Justice Kennedy, not Alito or Roberts. The two dissenters agreed with the outcome but not the finding that the Colorado commission acted unfairly. They thought the commission did its job. The case is not what conservatives will try to make it, but they will try; and LGBT rights have not been crushed, and we will work to expand them. The fight goes on.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Tempus fugit, you cunt

Summer in the South

Image result for air conditioner installer angry

There is a direct-to-video movie in this headline from Law & Crime:
"Air Conditioner Installer Allegedly Poisoned Family Because They Kept Complaining"

Why is a pol who says she fears no one afraid to let a nobody comment on her Twitter feed?

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Catherine Templeton for Governor shoots rattlesnakes on TV to show how she will end her party's corrupt uniparty rule in South Carolina.

She calls herself a Buzzsaw for being willing to take on anybody, anytime, who crosses her in her drive to be ruler.

But when I critiqued her recent Clemson U. debate performance- along with the other four GOP hopefuls- on Twitter, she blocked me. I just discovered that!

Me, a guy with 213 Twitter followers, just commenting as I watched her on public television! That should tell SC voters what sort of autocrat she will try to be.

"Never look at Governor Templeton except in the eye," we will be told. "Anywhere else, that thin skin will just bust open and it'll be hell to pay trying to stuff everything back in!"

[Update: My God in Heaven, as soon as I posted this I was awash in Catherine Templeton Facebook promos! 10 in a row! Stop it, Buzzcat! I can't vote in the primary!]

Cuntagion on the Right: Can it Be Cuntained?

Samantha Bee, a leftish TV comicommentator, called Ivanka Trump a "feckless cunt" the other day and the President- who called Ivanka Trump "a nice piece of ass" is upset.

This has led to whirlwind rounds of whataboutism. The President's social media fluffers are up on their hind legs complaining of the crudity of the political left. On Facebook and Twitter, South Carolina's Accidental Governor, Henruh McMastuh, mumbled,
I joined Sean Hannity last night to talk about the hypocrisy of the Left. Here in South Carolina, we don't stand for this disrespect of our president and his family.
Long forgotten is the now-vanished Mrs Trump's BeBest campaign, unveiled not quite a month ago to combat incivility and bullying. Her husband would be mute if he did not have Twitter through which to bully Americans every day, all day long.

Mr Trump's supporters follow his lead, and spew their own, homegrown venom. The day when Southerners of a certain disposition can freely use the n-word again is surely a'comin'. He does nothing to discourage them.

So while there are well-meaning people calling for greater civility, and trying to calibrate Bee's use of "cunt" on some scale of punishment next to, say Roseanne Barr's recent racist tweet (the President defends her), it's kind of like arms-control negotiations. Both sides have to give, and the #MAGAHatters prefer screaming "lock her up!" at rallies where the President tells them lies.

"Cunt" is a word cherished by the American Right. Indeed, the rock and roller Ted Nugent gave a 1994 interview to a Denver newspaper in which he declared, of Hillary Clinton,
"You probably can't use the term `toxic cunt' in your magazine, but that's what she is. Her very existence insults the spirit of individualism in this country. This bitch is nothing but a two-bit whore for Fidel Castro."
Trump campaign rallies in 2016 featured a wide array of cuntgear:

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Roseanne Barr, whose outburst the President has defended, is also on record:

This is where it gets confusing, as you may see. Samantha Bee called the President's daughter/advisor a cunt and the President said she could get fired. Roseanne Barr called Hillary Clinton one in 2016, but shouldn't be fired for being a racist (the President's views on the use of "pussy" are well known). And Ted Nugent got invited to dinner with the President and took a tour of the White House with the 2008 Republican nominee for vice president. And he called Hillary Clinton a cunt 24 years ago!

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For his part, the President has called at least three women- including the former Acting Attorney General of the United States- a cunt himself.

Is the tie-breaker that it's OK if you call Mrs Clinton that? Explain.