Monday, June 13, 2016
Last night, I didn't sleep well. I don't have to tell you what made me restless. During the night I woke up several times and thought of the 50 people who were killed in Orlando, Florida, and their grieving families and friends, and I prayed for consolation and and peace for them. I thought of the 53 wounded and their families and friends, and I prayed for healing.
I thought of LGTB friends who, while they have seen progress in acknowledgement of their rights and privileges as citizens of the country, were forcefully reminded yesterday of the hateful and life-threatening prejudice that remains.
I thought of the Founding Fathers who wrote the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution in the days when "well-regulated militia" were allowed to own muzzle-loading muskets. How, in God's name, did we arrived at this moment when citizens (not militia) are permitted to own military style assault weapons? Could the Founding Fathers ever have envisioned or intended us to be where we are now - in a place where, under the guise of 2nd Amendment freedom, people are permitted to own weapons of mass destruction?
If, after 20 children and 6 staff members were shot in their school in Connecticut, we did nothing, then I have little hope that the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the country targeting an LGTB nightclub in Orlando will bring change. But I know this: we can't give up; we can't stop trying for change.
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
TalkingPointsMemo keeps score of Republicans in office who endorse, support, or say, "Never Trump". Prominent Republicans who do not presently hold office, such as members of the Bush family and Mitt Romney, will not endorse, support, or vote for Trump, and I say good for them. If there is a remnant of the GOP left after the present election, I presume the anti- and pro-Trump forces will have to make up.
The source of the present controversy that divides supporters of Trump are his rants about Judge Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge who presides over civil litigation trials against Trump University in California, whom Trump labeled a "hater of Trump" and a "Mexican" and called upon the judge to recuse himself. Judge Curiel was born in Indiana of Mexican immigrant parents who are now naturalized citizens. Further, the judge is a courageous hero who, in the past, stood up to Mexican drug cartels which resulted in threats to his life, forcing him to live under federal protection for a year.
The latest racist rants by Trump attacking Judge Curiel were too much for some Republican Trump supporters/endorsers, and a number are speaking out against the accusations, calling them what they are - racist. Rather than back down, Trump doubled down in his criticism of Judge Curiel. Other GOP office holders, including Orrin Hatch and Chris Christie, defended Trump's remarks. If, in the end, Trump backs down (He will never apologize, as he does not do apologies.), Republicans will still live in fear of his next intemperate tweet or his next intemperate rant when someone gets under his "very thin skin", as Hillary Clinton said in her recent foreign policy speech.
To Republicans who supported, endorsed, or declared they will vote for Trump, he's your albatross. If you choose to withdraw your endorsement, support, or promise of a vote because of some future outrage over Trump's intemperate commentary, he is still your albatross, and he will hang around your necks for the indefinite future.
Monday, May 30, 2016
|American casualties returning to Dover AFB|
For the past several days, I've been thinking and remembering the the men and women who lost their lives in the many wars over the course of the history of our country and wondering what I might write to pay tribute to them. Sad to say, new graves for the fallen are still being dug today, for the US seems to be in a place of perpetual war.
Old anti-war songs come to mind like Pete Seeger's "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?", Bob Dylan's "With God on Our Side", and Eric Bogle's "The Green Fields of France".
The other day I read an essay by Jennie Haskemp in the Washington Post titled, "I'm a veteran, and I hate 'Happy Memorial Day.' Here's why." The essay is quite moving, but it's a tough read. Haskemp is a Marine Corps veteran, who lost a number of friends and acquaintances, and she should know.
That’s when it hit me. I’m angry. I’ve come to realize people think Memorial Day is the official start of summer. It’s grilled meat, super-duper discounts, a day (or two) off work, beer, potato salad and porches draped in bunting.
But it shouldn’t be. It’s more than that.
How is it then, some century and a half later, after more than a decade of war in two countries that claimed the lives of some 6,861 Americans, we are collectively more concerned with having a barbecue and going shopping than pausing to appreciate the cost of our freedom to do so?
A friend reminded me that plenty of people use the weekend the way it was designed: to pause and remember the men and women who paid the price of our freedom, and then go on about enjoying those freedoms.
But I argue not enough people use it that way. Not enough people pause. Not enough people remember.
I’m frustrated by people all over the country who view the day as anything but a day to remember our WAR DEAD. I hate hearing “Happy Memorial Day.”
It’s not Veterans Day. It’s not military appreciation day. Don’t thank me for my service. Please don’t thank me for my service. It’s take the time to pay homage to the men and women who died while wearing the cloth of this nation you’re so freely enjoying today, day.
The photo at the head of the post of the coffins of service members returning to the US from Iraq and Afghanistan to Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, is memorable, because publication of pictures was banned for 18 years out of concern for the privacy of the families of the fallen, until Defense Secretary of Defense Robert Gates lifted the ban in 2009. The decision was controversial within the military and within military family organizations
Gates said he came to the conclusion that "we should not presume to make the decision for the families; we should actually let them make it."
Under the new policy, photographs will not be permitted of a coffin if a family says no. The policy is similar to one in place for funerals at Arlington National Cemetery.
Jon Soltz, the chairman of VoteVets.org, an anti-Iraq war group that says it has 15,000 military families as members, said he was pleased with the decision.
"So many Americans want to have Memorial Day once a year, when they go to the beach and cook hot dogs in the backyard," Soltz said.
Sunday, May 29, 2016
First up was a brief interview with Bernie Sanders, but CBS had given away the best lines from the interview on Saturday, so there was little that was new to me.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) followed. Johnson supports Trump, but he has his knickers in a bit of a twist over the Muslim ban. Still, Trump is better than socialism and big government.
The pundit panel offers the same soul-destroying experience that caused me to stop watching years ago. The participants in the panel may change, but the soul-destruction goes on. Today, the panel included Jeffery Goldberg, Ruth Marcus, Ron Brownstein, Mark Leibovich, and last, but not least, Peggy Noonan.
Peggy Noonan won first place as the star of the panel show, by offering a few moments of comic relief from the soul-destruction.
Noonan:But I still think the big story that we're talking about here in the e-mail thing is very, very simple. Americans don't really trust Mrs. Clinton to be forthcoming and truthful. That's all in the polls. I forget what words they are, but you know what I mean. When you look at the tape of Mrs. Clinton saying things about the e-mails that have been shown to not of them true in the IG thing, she has been -- I hate to say lied, but she has lied coolly and -- in a creamy, practiced way. It doesn't look good.Peggums, Peggums, be honest: You know you liked saying "...she lied", or you would not have said it twice. You lie in a not-so-creamy, not-so-practiced way.
Later an exchange about Trump's attack on New Mexico Gov. Suzana Martinez:
NOONAN: And when he makes fun of the official elites of America, in no matter what way, they kind of like it because they don't like us.Peggums, I get that you think you're among the official elites of America, but, other than that, I don't know what you mean.
BROWNSTEIN: And Mexicans Americans are not the elites of America.
NOONAN: Under -- no, no, but a big personal like Martinez -- do you know what I mean?
I remember Nancy Dickerson, John Dickerson's mother, who was a pioneer as the first woman to appear in in major news broadcasting outlets in the 1950s, and it seems John fell rather far from the tree.
Image from Wikipedia.
Saturday, May 28, 2016
Bernie Sanders was allowed to choose five members of the Platform Committee, and Clinton was allowed to choose six. In the past, the chair of the DNC picked all 15 members, but Sanders is still dissatisfied. His lawyers sent a letter to the DNC demanding that the co-chair of the Platform Committee, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, and the co-chair of the Rules Committee, former Rep. Barney Frank, be removed from their positions because they support Clinton.
Good grief! Nearly everyone at the convention will support either Clinton or Sanders, and the candidate who seems to have little chance of being named the nominee will have fewer supporters than the candidate who has the most votes and the most pledged delegates. What this latest move amounts to is more whining from Sanders, and haven't we had enough of that? I know I have. The two leaders were mean to him, so he wants them removed, or else he threatens to obstruct the business of the convention. For someone who so recently became a Democrat, this latest action is astonishing.
For me, it is now a question of character for Sanders to threaten to make mischief at the Democratic convention with Donald Trump as the GOP opponent. I hope he's soundly trounced in Pennsylvania and California. And yes, Bernie, I supported you at the beginning of the campaign, but I switched to Hillary months ago. I was yours to have, and you lost me. If I had not switched to Clinton back then, you would have pushed me away many times over since then.
Here's the link to the video from Rachel Maddow's show on MSNBC. The segment on the letters from Sanders' lawyers starts about 5 minutes into the video.
And the link to the text of the letter sent to the DNC.
Sunday, May 22, 2016
|Hillary Clinton, 1992|
The question as to why many Millennials —and millennial feminists in particular— seem to have turned their backs on Hillary Clinton has been explored at length this primary season. The Daily Beast, Huffington Post, and Los Angeles Times have all come to varying conclusions: Hillary is “not feminist enough,” Hillary is “part of the establishment,” and Bernie’s youthful idealism is more appealing than Hillary’s less sexy pragmatism.Keep in mind that Sanders has, thus far, been only mildly attacked. The ugly vetting process by the GOP would begin only if he is the nominee, because they'd much prefer to run against Sanders, than Clinton. There's much to be explored in Sanders' background, and that's not counting the lies that will come from the Republicans.
All of these factors undoubtedly play a large role in the overall negative perception some Millennials have of Hillary Clinton, but the more obvious answer is simply this: we Millennials are coming to know Hillary Clinton after 20 years of relentless personal and political attacks.
Whatever you may think of her, you cannot deny that no other public figure has been subjected to the kind of merciless scrutiny that Hillary Clinton has endured throughout her career. It has become nearly impossible to distinguish fact from fiction with respect to the many accusations that have been leveled at Hillary Clinton. To put it blatantly, we Millennials aren’t familiar with the Hillary Clinton that our parents know.
The money quote:
At the end of the day, no matter how aggressively her opponents have tried to destroy her, Hillary Clinton is still standing and that means something.Clinton is still standing. Her strength, stamina, and composure in the face of 25 years of attacks are amazing. If Clinton seems guarded and lacking in spontaneity, she has reason, and her demeanor has little to do with what she will accomplish if she is elected.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Josh Marshall in an editorial at Talking Points Memo:
For months I'd thought and written that Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver was the key driver of toxicity in the the Democratic primary race. Weaver has been highly visible on television, far more than campaign managers tend to be. He's also been the one constantly upping the tension, pressing the acrimony and unrealism of the campaign as Sanders actual chances of winning dwindled.Josh Marshall is spot on. Even as my concern about the Sanders revolution had risen over several months, last night I lost all respect for the senator when I watched his lame commentary about the disruption of the Nevada Democratic convention by his delegates and his absolute refusal to take responsibility. The disrupters were not people off the street; they were Sanders' delegates to the convention, and he is indeed responsible for their actions.
But now I realize I had that wrong.
Actually, I didn't realize it. People who know told me.
Over the last several weeks I've had a series of conversations with multiple highly knowledgable, highly placed people. Perhaps it's coming from Weaver too. The two guys have been together for decades. But the 'burn it down' attitude, the upping the ante, everything we saw in that statement released today by the campaign seems to be coming from Sanders himself. Right from the top.
Later, I watched parts of Sanders' speech at the rally in California. He continues to lie to his supporters and tell them he has a path to win the nomination of the Democratic Party. Not for one minute do I believe Sanders can control his Sandernistas, now that he's whipped up their emotions about the coming Sanders revolution, nor do I think he wishes to. I won't hold my tongue any longer for fear of alienating the extremist obstructionists among his supporters, because I expect none of them will vote for Clinton; they will either stay home or vote for Trump.
Though he doesn't mention her by name, rather than scale back his criticism of Hillary Clinton, who will be the nominee, in order to unite the party, Sanders upped the nastiness in his speech, pitting himself against her though he has no chance to win. If Sanders ever campaigns for Clinton, I'll be surprised. Perhaps he will eventually pay lip service to endorsing Clinton, but by then it may be too little, too late.
Sanders took advantage of the Democratic Party to run for president, and now he is determined to have his way or destroy the party. It's obvious that however he labels himself, he is no Democrat. At first, I thought he served the party well by highlighting issues that need attention. Now I see him as a sore loser and a spoiler. Whatever you think of the Democratic Party, and it is far from perfect, it is the only institution that stands in the way of a Trump presidency.
Sen. Sanders and Sandernistas, good luck with the revolution. Sadly, it will be Trump's revolution, not your revolution. Enjoy. The rest of us will pay the price for your recklessness.
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
I'm a lifelong agnostic Jew, an aberrant Discordian, and a student of human nature. I've got an abiding interest in religion and the way it has shaped our world.Is the book irreverent? Indeed, it is. Is it funny? Hilarious. I smiled and sometimes laughed out loud as I read each short chapter in the book, which I highly recommend.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this book, and I hope that it's helped you view Genesis in a more playful light. The Bible is full of fantastic stories, and it's a shame so many people miss out on them because they've heard the book is just a collection of boring lessons sandwiched between tedious lists of begats. Nothing could be further from the truth! It's a collection of entertaining, bizarre and colorful stories sandwiched between the tedious lists of begats.Edwards is also a stand-up comedian.
Friday, May 13, 2016
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
HOW GREAT I AM
(To the tune of How Great Thou Art)
O Donald Trump, when I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds my hands have made;
I see the tower, I hear the jangling quarters,
My power throughout this earth of ours displayed.
Then sings my soul, O Donald Trump, to me,
How great I am, how great I am.
Then sings my soul, O Donald Trump, to me,
How great I am, how great I am!
And when I think of me my time not sparing;
I choose to run, I scarce can take it in;
That on the stump, my burden gladly bearing,
I lie and shout my way to score a win.
When I shall come with shouts of acclamation
As nominee, what joy shall fill my heart!
The right will bow with humble resignation,
And there proclaim, "O Trump, how great Thou art!"
Alternative lyrics for the hymn by me, with apologies to Carl Gustav Boberg (1859–1940).
Original post from December 2015.