Sunday, November 29, 2020

Yes, A Pro-Choice Pastor

Collins undoubtedly was referring to Jeremiah 1:4-5, in which, according to the prophet, "The word of the Lord came to me, saying, 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.'"  God set Jeremiah apart for a definite purpose at the time he formed him in the womb.

It is typically implied- as Collins did here- that God has formed everyone in the womb and has for him or her a definite purpose. That would apply also to Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin, a significant but unrelated matter.

It is understandable that Collins would quote Jeremiah 1:5 in defense of his long and faithful support of forced-birth mandates.  Similarly, it is understandable that the Georgian would not cite Genesis 2:5-7:

When no bush of the field[ was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

And so we have a problem, because as this medical site for laypersons explains 

Even when a fetus’s lungs are fully developed, it’s impossible for the fetus to breathe until after birth. Developing babies are surrounded by amniotic fluid, and their lungs are filled with this fluid. By 10–12 weeks of gestation, developing babies begin taking “practice” breaths. But these breaths provide them with no oxygen, and only refill the lungs with more amniotic fluid.

Thus, according to Genesis (which Collins surely would maintain is divinely-inspired),  man (or woman) does not become a living creature until he/she begins to breath. And that is.... at birth.

Representative Collins cites an Old Testament verse which makes the case that God creates life early in the womb, or even before that; another Old Testament verse makes the case that life does not begin until birth or perhaps soon before.

If Scripture is indeed God-breathed, it cannot be pick or choose. Doug Collins, a stalwart abortion opponent, has chosen his Bible verse.  A less presumptuous Reverend Warnock has chosen not to cite Scripture to defend his pro-reproductive rights stance. He probably realizes that God created human beings with a functioning brain, one which would permit men and women to make their own decisions about their own bodies.

That does not mean Doug Collins is wrong about abortion (though he is). But he is wrong in quoting the Bible selectively for political purposes and trying to corner the market in religious faith.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Reasonable Speculation

When it comes to criticizing Barack Obama as patronizing or as injurious to the (political) health of down-ballot Democrats, I picked the "1" at the deli counter- first in line. But when he's right, he's right, and he may have been when he stated

People were surprised about a lot of Hispanic folks who voted for Trump. But there are a lot of evangelical Hispanics who — the fact that Trump says racist things about Mexicans or puts detainees and undocumented workers in cages — they think that’s less important than the fact that he supports their views on same-sex marriage or abortion.

This seems to have evoked some bad feelings, for as Eugene Scott of The Washington Post maintains

The truth is that it’s still not clear how evangelical Hispanics went about choosing their candidate, because exit polls and data are still being analyzed. But Obama’s words are being interpreted by religious conservatives as the latest example of the left not understanding this voting bloc, which is more ideologically and religiously diverse than many of those opining about their politics seem to understand. And that could cost the Democratic Party more support with one of the largest voting blocs in the country.

As Scott notes, "it's still not clear how evangelical Hispanics went about choosing their candidate." However, we do know at least two prominent Republicans are wrong because the BBC reports

Republican pollster Frank Luntz tweeted of Mr Obama's comments: "This is lazy analysis which likely will become the conventional wisdom of his followers: 'People who don't support us are bigots.'"

Steve Cortes, a Trump 2020 campaign adviser, said Mr Obama had insulted Latinos.

The Hispanic political strategist tweeted: "As important as life issues are, the economic factors drove most working-class voters to Trump, including Latinos."

No, Obama did not say those individuals are "bigots." Democrats have been tarred by Republicans for decades as elitists contemptuous of the faith of Christians. Republicans have sought support of Latinos, traditionally Catholic but in increasing numbers evangelical Protestant. Now that Donald Trump, presiding over a terrible economy but posing as a religious convert, has increased the GOP share of the Latino vote, Republicans complain that Barack Obama must not say that Hispanics vote for Republicans because of shared moral principles.

As political scientists, pundits, and journalists have long pointed out, white evangelicals are significantly more conservative toward same-sex marriage, abortion rights, and other issues once labeled "family values" than are the less religious. A Pew Research survey conducted in 2014 found much the same about Hispanics/Latinos, in that

Hispanics tend to be more conservative than the general public in their views on abortion. While 54% of U.S. adults say that abortion should be legal in all or most circumstances, just four-in-ten Hispanics take this position.

But Latino religious groups differ markedly in their views about abortion. Most Latino evangelical Protestants (70%) say that abortion should be illegal in all or most circumstances, as do 54% of Latino Catholics. Latino mainline Protestants are closely divided, with 45% saying abortion should be mostly legal and 46% saying it should be mostly illegal. And a majority of religiously unaffiliated Hispanics (58%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

Views on abortion among Hispanic evangelical Protestants are similar to those among white (non-Hispanic) evangelicals, 64% of whom say that abortion should be illegal in all or most circumstances. Hispanic Catholics are more inclined than white Catholics to say that abortion should be illegal (54% vs. 44%). Hispanic mainline Protestants are also more inclined than white mainline Protestants to say that abortion should be illegal in all or most circumstances (46% vs. 31%).13 The belief that abortion should be illegal in all or most cases is more common among those who attend religious services at least once a week.

The real answer, of course, is that we still don't know exactly why Donald Trump has attracted more Latinos than his rhetoric or policy has warranted. Barack Obama's remark was strategically unwise (and politically incorrect) because it was easily, perhaps intentionally, misinterpreted. And Republicans are always anxious to pose as victims, in this case falsely claiming that their supporters are being tagged with bigotry. Guilty consciences are unattractive.


Thursday, November 26, 2020

Disappeared History

All you need to know are two things. The first is that The Washington Post's Robin Givhan realizes

To be clear, Rudy Giuliani was never America’s mayor. That nickname was a bit of media gloss that was spread so thickly and indiscriminately that Giuliani had no trouble dining out on it for years. Many Americans lapped it up, too.

The second is that, despite condemning Giuliani's antics of the past four years, criticizing his overall performance as mayor, and recognizing the "America's Mayor" thing was "more marketing than fact," she believes

....for months after 9/11, he kept firm, reassuring and empathetic control of a city that was in an unimaginable crisis — and his sure hand helped to contain the rippling circles of fear and uncertainty that were spreading across the country. Giuliani was tested in ways that few mayors have ever been. He rose to the challenge, and for that he was rightfully admired.

Unless "rose" is synonym for "plummeted," that would be grievously inaccurate. The late, great investigative reporter Wayne Barrett in 2007 laid out "Rudy Giuliani's Five Big Lies About 9/11."  Though Rudolph claimed New York City was better prepared for a terrorist attack than was the federal government or any other jurisdiction in the country

New York’s lack of unified command, as well as the breakdown of communications between the police and fire departments, fell far short of the efforts at the Pentagon that day, as later established by the 9/11 Commission and NIST reports. When the 280,000-member International Association of Fire Fighters recently released a powerful video assailing Giuliani for sticking firefighters with the same radios that “we knew didn’t work” in the 1993 attack, the presidential campaign attacked the union.....

The IAFF video reports that 121 firefighters in the north tower didn’t get out because they didn’t hear evacuation orders, rejecting Giuliani’s claim before the 9/11 Commission that the firefighters heard the orders and heroically decided to “stand their ground” and rescue civilians.

Even the 9/11 commission

concluded that the “technical failure of FDNY radios” was “a contributing factor,” though “not the primary cause,” of the “many firefighter fatalities in the North Tower.” The commission compared “the strength” of the NYPD and FDNY radios and said that the weaknesses of the FDNY radios “worked against successful communication”...

In addition, the commission concluded that fire chiefs failed to turn on the repeater correctly that morning—another indication of the lack of training and drills at the WTC between the attacks. In the end, firefighters had to rely exclusively on their radios, and the inability of the Giuliani administration to find a replacement for the radios that malfunctioned in 1993 left them unable to talk to each other, even about getting out of a tower on the verge of collapse.

The mayor had also done nothing to make the radios interoperable—which would have enabled the police and firefighters to communicate across departmental lines—despite having received a 1995 federal waiver granting the city the additional radio frequencies to make that possible. That meant the fire chiefs had no idea that police helicopters had anticipated the partial collapse of both towers long before they fell.

It’s not just the radios and the OEM: Giuliani never forced the police and fire departments to abide by clear command-and-control protocols that squarely put one service in charge of the other during specified emergencies. Though he collected $250 million in tax surcharges on phone use to improve the 911 system, he diverted this emergency funding for other uses, and the 911 dispatchers were an utter disaster that day, telling victims to stay where they were long after the fire chiefs had ordered an evacuation, which potentially sealed the fates of hundreds. And, despite the transparent lessons of 1993, Giuliani never established any protocols for rooftop or elevator rescues in high-rises, or even a strategy for bringing the impaired and injured out—all costly failings on 9/11.

Moreover, against expert advice Mayor Giuliani decided

to put his prized, $61 million emergency-command center in the World Trade Center, an obvious terrorist target. The 1997 decision had dire consequences on 9/11, when the city had to mobilize a response without any operational center.

No fooling- he decided to put the command center at ground zero for a likely terrorist attack because he could walk there. Ironically, that self-interested, tragic and deadly choice elevated Giuliani to the myth of "America's Mayor" because he was viewed across the country boldly walking through Manhattan and appearing to be in charge of a situation made dramatically worse because of his disastrous policy choices.

Rudy Giuliani is the Republican Party. His mayoralty was marked by racial insensitivity and an image elevated preposterously by smoke and mirrors. Now he is a buffoonish character, evidently a pathetic, lying thug.  The media response, predictably, is... how Rudy has changed! How sad that America's mayor has now become Donald Trump's henchman!

Similarly, we have to get ready for a resurrected image of the Republican Party. The mainstream media will promote the Joe Biden view of the GOP- fine men and women who, almost mesmerized, momentarily lost their head over Donald Trump.  It may forget that the Republican Party long ago adopted the values of Dixiecrats, plutocrats, and (more recently) theocrats.  We must remember that the GOP was fertile ground for Donald Trump, just as today's Rudy Giuliani is yesterday's Rudy Giuliani.


                                              HAPPY THANKSGIVING 

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Possibly, Almost Somewhat True

A partner in the hyper-partisan, extremely ill-intentioned quasi-law firm of Giuliani, Powell & Ellis:


But file this under "I made the quote up."  Ellis figured she was safe to invent a quote because followers of Donald Trump had long ago decided that the truth, at best, is optional.  A few hours later:

Nonetheless, tweets even by the left should not be taken at face value. However, Snopes has found

The passage is, in fact, from an editorial written by the former president in May 1918, when the U.S. was embroiled in World War I. Make no mistake, Roosevelt wasn’t against the war — quite to the contrary, he believed the U.S. had entered it too reluctantly — but he was outspokenly critical of President Woodrow Wilson’s conduct of the war, writing no fewer than two syndicated editorials a week over a two-year period advocating for a stronger U.S. presence on the European war front.

You must be shocked to learn that a protege of Rudy Giuliani is flagrantly dishonest. She has a bright future in the Republican Party.


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Man With The Receipts

Question: What do the following have in common: Kevin Hart, James Gaffigan, Amy Schumer, Rudy Giuliani?

Answer: They all are stand-up comedians.

That's one explanation for the Trump-Giuliani relationship. We read that President

Trump is worried that his campaign’s legal team, which is being led by his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, is composed of “fools that are making him look bad,” NBC News reported Monday....

But when asked why Trump doesn’t fire Giuliani and other attorneys who remain on the team, a person familiar with the president’s thinking gave a profane shoulder shrug of an answer.

“Who the f--- knows?” that person said to NBC News.

The Associated Press' Jonathan Lemire believes it's "the sense from the president that Giuliani did some some good in the Russia probe, with his fog machine to confuse the issues and deliver attacks on Mueller that seemed to undermine the special council’s credibility. " The usually insightful Steve M. thinks "Trump gets tremendous emotional satisfaction from watching people fight on his behalf, even if they're fighting ineptly. It's primitive and it's male..."

Others may believe that it's the President's deep appreciation for a good stand-up comedian. In November of 2019 The Guardian reported

Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, has said he is confident the president will remain loyal to him as an impeachment inquiry unfolds in which the former New York mayor has become a central figure.

But Giuliani joked that he had good “insurance” in case Trump did turn on him, amid speculation Republicans will seek to frame him as a rogue actor.

In a telephone interview with the Guardian, in response to a question about whether he was nervous that Trump might “throw him under a bus” in the impeachment crisis, Giuliani said, with a slight laugh: “I’m not, but I do have very, very good insurance, so if he does, all my hospital bills will be paid.”

Giuliani’s lawyer, Robert Costello, who was also on the call, then interjected: “He’s joking.”

Ha! We all laughed. Some folks were rolling in the aisles. Betting here, though, is that the La Cosa Nostra did not mistake it for a joke. It's what organized crime figures know to do- casually drop a veiled threat, then pull back from it: mission accomplished.

Rudolph Giuliani was the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York in the 1980s, when Donald J. Trump was bugging hotel rooms and making deals with the mob in New York real estate. He not only knows where the bodies are buried. He probably has a road map.

Nor is Mr. Giuliani's bargaining position hurt by his relationship with the New York office of the FBI. Recall that on Fox & Friends in late October 2016

“Does Donald Trump plan anything except a series of inspiring rallies?” Mr. Kilmeade asked.

“Yes,” Mr. Giuliani replied.

Another host, Ainsley Earhardt, jumped in.

“What?” she asked.

“Ha-ha-ha,” Mr. Giuliani laughed. “You’ll see.”

Appearing to enjoy his own coy reply, Mr. Giuliani resumed chuckling: “Ha-ha-ha.”

“When will this happen?” Ms. Earhardt asked.

“We got a couple of surprises left,” Mr. Giuliani said, smiling.

This enigmatic reply roused the show’s third host, Steve Doocy.

“October surprises?” he asked.

Mr. Giuliani expanded a bit.

“Well,” he said, “I call them early surprises in the way we’re going to campaign to get our message out, maybe in a little bit of a different way. You’ll see. And I think it’ll be enormously effective. And I do think that all of these revelations about Hillary Clinton finally are beginning to have an impact.”

Three days later, James B. Comey, the director of the F.B.I., said agents were reviewing emails “that appear to be pertinent” to a closed investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s use of a personal email server while secretary of state.

Stand-up comedian Noel Casler, a tireless Trump critic who worked on the set of Celebrity Apprentice, maintains the President "is very unintelligent, but he is also a master conman. He knows what he’s doing, in the sense of advancing his own interests." 

This isn't the first time the parlor game of "will Trump fire the unhinged Giuliani" has been played. If Giuliani still hasn't been fired by the President, it's not primarily because of a personality quirk or character flaw. Rather, it's primarily because Rudolph Giuliani doesn't merely know where the bodies are buried. He probably has a road map- and if he doesn't, Donald Trump can't be sure of it.


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Monday, November 23, 2020

BDS Under Scrutiny

God is in the details, it is said. It is said also that the devil is in the details, which sets up a very interesting dynamic.

And so we have Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemning the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and declaring, according to CBS News, "We will immediately take steps to identify organizations that engage in hateful BDS conduct and withdraw U.S. government support for such groups."

It is unclear, nonetheless, what groups Pompeo is referring to. However, in response to the Secretary of State, the Palestinian BDS National Movement issued a statement claiming it "has consistently and categorically rejected all forms of racism, including anti-Jewish racism, as a matter of principle."

There are at least two problems with this statement. It's one thing to object to "racism" as a "matter of principle." Every person or group can easily say he/she/they do so, but without specifying instances, "a matter of principle" is indistinguishable from "in concept." Additionally, the evidence that Jews constitute a race is weak, though it has had many notable supporters, including a world-renown German of the mid-twentieth century.

Even aside from the anthropological fallacy, it's nearly impossible to conclude that the BDS movement is not anti-Semitic. Its website argues "The fanatic Trump-Netanyahu alliance is intentionally conflating opposition to Israel’s regime of occupation, colonization and apartheid against Palestinians and calls for nonviolent pressure to end this regime."

As the video below explains, the characterization of Israel as an apartheid state cannot be sustained. Moreover, it's obvious that (despite protestations to the contrary) an organization which believes- accurately or inaccurately- that a nation's existence is based on apartheid would not tolerate the continued existence of that state other than as a parcel of land. When interviewed in July of 2019 by The New York Times

Omar Barghouti, a top B.D.S. spokesman, called the Israeli laws racist and exclusionary. A democratic state could still provide asylum for Jewish refugees, showing “some sensitivity to the Jewish experience,” he said, “but it cannot be a racist law that says only Jews benefit.” Asked if that means Jews cannot have their own state, he said, “Not in Palestine.”

Barghouti, of course, did not specify where in the world Jews, who shaped, formed, and built a democratic land in a region where so few ever have existed, and had lived there continuously for millennia, would have their own state.

That does not necessarily mean that the federal government should withdraw its support for organizations that "engage in hateful BDS conduct," whatever that means.  Pompeo needs to put some meat on the bones of the imprecise "engage in BDS conduct."

This may be an instance of bad policy or good policy. unfortunately, whatever it is, it would inevitably be opposed by the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, whose hostility toward the existence of a Jewish state is starkly obvious.


Saturday, November 21, 2020

Bad Ideas

Kyle Rittenhouse is charged with first degree intentional homicide and first degree reckless homicide in the shooting deaths of two persons, and with attempted first degree homicide in a third shooting, at protests in late August following the killing of an unarmed black man. Accused of the shooting death of two persons and wounding of another at a racial justice/anti-police protest, he now has been bailed out of Kenosha County Detention Center in Kenosha, Wisconsin

Rittenhouse was released after a conservative organization named Fight Back put up $2 million cash bail, some of it by MyPillow founder Mike Lindell and actor Ricky Schroder, and left Twitter is up in arms (pun intended) by Schroder's contribution.  So, too, is The Young Turks' Aida Rodriguez, who claims

If he would have been black, he would have been under the jail. There would be no two-million dollar bond and I'm just tired of them trying to normalize the other side's opinion when the other side is just evil and wrong.

Would there have been no two million dollar bond, with the alleged perpetrator still in jail, had the accused been black? There is no way to be sure but a few weeks before the murderous incident in Kenosha we learned

A Minnesota nonprofit has bailed out defendants from Twin Cities jails charged with murder, violent felonies, and sex crimes, as it seeks to address a system that disproportionately incarcerates Black people and people of color.

The Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF) received $35 million in donations in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, with many of those donations intended to help protesters who were jailed during the demonstrations and riots in May.

The group’s mission was celebrated on social media with praise from Hollywood celebrities, like Steve Carell, Cynthia Nixon, and Seth Rogen. 

There was another particularly famous individual who celebrated the group's mission. (Read on to the end to find out whom.)  Perhaps not surprisingly, given focus on police shooting of unarmed blacks, the spate of donations

was an unexpected windfall.  Prior tax returns in 2017 and 2018 show MFF would pull in about $100,000 in donations.  

We initially got some raised eyebrows especially when we ramped up our activity from $1000 a day to now $100,000 a day, raised eyebrows from our bankers,” said Greg Lewin, the interim executive director of the fund.

Among those bailed out by the Minnesota Freedom Fund (MFF) is a suspect who shot at police, a woman accused of killing a friend, and a twice convicted sex offender, according to court records reviewed by the FOX 9 Investigators.  

According to attempted murder charges, Jaleel Stallings shot at members of a SWAT Team during the riots in May.  Police recovered a modified pistol that looks like an AK-47.  MFF paid $75,000 in cash to get Stallings out of jail.  

Darnika Floyd is charged with second degree murder, for stabbing a friend to death.  MFF paid $100,000 cash for her release. 

Christopher Boswell, a twice convicted rapist, is currently charged with kidnapping, assault, and sexual assault in two separate cases.  MFF paid $350,00 in cash for his release. 

“The last time we were down there, the clerk said, ‘we hate it when you bail out these sex offenders, that is what they said',” Lewin said. 

Personally, I'm not crazy about it, either, especially if it is a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd degree sexual assault.  Nor is attempted murder, alleged to have involved a weapon nearly identical to Rittenhouse's weapon of choice, a minor charge.

So we learn that blacks, too, are allowed to be released on bail in our criminal justice system.  I can think of better uses of my money than setting (temporarily) free blacks, whites, or any other individuals accused of violent crime, but people are free to spend their money on whatever (within the law) they wish.

Rodriguez stated also

The Washington Post is having a sit-down with Kyle because we want to know what a murderer is thinking and then we wonder why the world and our country is in disarray- because the media, the mainstream media is constantly adding fuel to the fire.

There are many reasons the world and the country are in disarray, but its habit of "shedding light"- as Rodriguez disparagingly puts it- on major events is not one of them.. The media fails in its mission when it avoids shedding light on such matters as the role of the financial and housing industries in prompting the Great Recession or the periodic support given to eugenics by Donald Trump.

She continues, unfortunately "I don't want to hear what he has to say, right- I don't want to hear what he has to say, he's a criminal, a cold-blooded murderer." Well, yes, probably he is, which is no reason he should be ignored. And because the murder he committed was partially motivated by political ideology, there is even more reason to interview him.

There are countries in which the media doesn't dare "shed light" on political affairs or affairs of the state. They would include most notably mainland China, Syria, Eritrea, Turkmenistan, and North Korea, nations in which journalists who report the news objectively sometimes are never heard from again. 

If Rodriguez believes that it's foolhardy or dangerous to bail out people who are accused of serious, violent crimes, her criticism would apply to contributors to the inaptly-named Minnesota Freedom Fund. Those so generous do demonstrate that the USA is, as Rodriguez terms it, "in disarray."

Alas, they would regrettably include the junior Senator from California, who is now the Vice President-elect. It's a nation and world in disarray, or perhaps extreme danger. Donald Trump and Mike Pence thankfully are being dispossessed of power, in favor of 78-year-old Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, the latter believing individuals accused of a violent felony deserves swift release from detention pending trial. At least she has no such sympathy- presumably- for Kyle Rittenhouse, a state of affairs most fortunate.


Thursday, November 19, 2020

Rolling On With Unity

Afghanistan. China. Iran. Gulf arm sales. Israeli settlements. Yemen.

In what appears to be "a strategy that radically breaks with past practice, could raise national security risks and will surely compound challenges for the Biden team"

The Trump team has prepared legally required transition memos describing policy challenges, but there are no discussions about actions they could take or pause. Instead, the White House is barreling ahead. A second official tells CNN their goal is to set so many fires that it will be hard for the Biden administration to put them all out.

And yet

President-elect Joe Biden has privately told advisers that he doesn't want his presidency to be consumed by investigations of his predecessor, according to five people familiar with the discussions, despite pressure from some Democrats who want inquiries into President Donald Trump, his policies and members of his administration.

Biden has raised concerns that investigations would further divide a country he is trying to unite and risk making every day of his presidency about Trump, said the sources, who spoke on background to offer details of private conversations.

They said he has specifically told advisers that he is wary of federal tax investigations of Trump or of challenging any orders Trump may issue granting immunity to members of his staff before he leaves office. One adviser said Biden has made it clear that he "just wants to move on."

Donald Trump has no intention of allowing President Biden to "move on." Mitch McConnell, who in all likelihood will return as Senate Majority Leader, has no intention of allowing President Biden to "move on." The Republican base has no intention of allowing President Biden to "move on."

Joe Biden wants to move on because he has no stomach to allow whomever becomes Attorney General to confront private citizen Donald Trump and hold him to account for crimes he committed against the American people.  In the Young Turks video below, Ana Kasparian understands that "if you care about the rule of law, if you care about protecting the democratic process," the past cannot be disappeared.

But maybe this decision will be unrelated to any concern Biden may or may not have about the rule of law or the democratic process.  Following Kasparian, Cenk Uygur notes

Fifty percent of Republicans believe the Democratic Party is led by child molesters. Fifty percent. And who leads the Democratic Party now? Joe Biden does. So he's like "i want to united with the people who are calling me child molester." Why would you want to do that? That makes no sense at all."

Oh, but it does, if you're Joseph Robinette Biden.  In July of 2019, Dr. Jill Biden said

California Sen. Kamala Harris implied her husband Joe Biden is racist with her attack on the former vice president during the first Democratic presidential debate.

In an exclusive interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo airing on Monday, Jill Biden called Harris' criticism of Biden over race and segregation "the biggest surprise" to her in the party's 2020 race so far -- but said voters "didn't buy it."

Her comments come as Biden and Harris battle to win over black voters, a crucial constituency in the Democratic nominating contest. Biden has pointed to his time as former President Barack Obama's vice president as well as his own legacy on civil rights to defend himself, while Harris has taken aim at elements of Biden's earlier career in the Senate.

In the late-June debate, Harris criticized Biden's comments at a private fundraiser earlier in the month about the "civility" of the Senate during an era in which he worked with segregationists in the chamber. She also lambasted his early-career opposition to federally mandated busing.

"I think that they were looking at the past. I mean, the one thing you cannot say about Joe is that he's a racist. I mean, he got into politics because of his commitment to civil rights. And then to be elected with Barack Obama, and then someone is saying, you know, you're a racist?" she said.

The candidate whom Joe Biden's wife Jill maintained had accused her husband of being a racist was Kamala Harris, United States Senator, State of California.

That same Kamala Harris, a little less than a year later, was offered by his target a position on his ticket, the chance to be vice-president, and a heartbeat from being the first female President of the United States of America.

Mull that over. You're called a racist- according to the person whom you most love and possibly respect- by an individual you then honor with the most important, most desired and desirable, appointment you will ever make.

As Uygur implies, Biden doesn't give a whit that the GOP has promoted the idea that the Democratic Party is led by child molesters.  But if Donald Trump accuses Joe Biden personally of being a child molester, it still wouldn't persuade President Biden's administration to consider holding Trump responsible.

Senator Biden was rolled by Judiciary Committee Republicans on the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court nomination' rolled as Vice-President, because that's practically in the job description; and rolled by Kamala Harris, who humiliated him publicly and later was rewarded by a position seen by many as President-in-Waiting.

So if the Trump Administration is laying foreign policy traps for President Biden or setting fires which must be put out, there is no downside for the 45th President or his party.  If Republicans want to demonize the Democratic Party as pedophiles, socialists, or anti-Christmas, they will. They know this is Joe Biden and there will be no penalty to be paid.


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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Proxy Vote

In a recent interview with Axios, an angry Majority Whip Jim Clyburn was asked why Democrats lost House seats in this month's election and remarked

Well, it happened simply because we were not able to discipline ourselves according to voter sentiment. We kept making that mistake- this foolishness- about you got to be this progressive or that progressive.

That phrase- "defund the police"- caused Jaime Harrison tremendously. I'm not saying it was the only problem.

Although he claimed "I don't blame progressive members," he maintained

When you ask somebody "why would you want to defund the police? They'll tell you "That's not what we mean. This is what we mean." My position is, in politics, the moment you start explaining what you mean, you are losing the argument.

Between those two remarks, Clyburn emphasized  "Stop sloganeering. Sloganeering kills people. Sloganeering destroys movements. Stop sloganeering."

On NBC, Clyburn said much the same, arguing

And I also can tell you about the Senate here in South Carolina. Jaime Harrison started to plateau when defund the police showed up with a caption on TV. That stuff hurt Jimmy and that's why I spoke out against it a long time ago. I've always said that these headlines can kill a political effort.

Funny thing about that, though. In mid-October, Harrison Senate candidate Harrison had told an interviewer "There needs to be some reform to our criminal justice system," a position approximately 93 people in the country, maybe 3 or 4 in South Carolina, would disagree with. Far more significantly, he added "I oppose all of these efforts to defund the police."

Nonetheless, the unpopular slogan may have critically injured the Democratic nominee, as Clyburn contends. But it would not have had nearly the impact unless it were credible, and Harrison made it clear he stood behind law enforcement. Instead, the slogan may have have been a proxy for a movement no Democrat (and few Republicans, actually) dare question.

Among House Democrats who lost their seat on November 3, few if any supported defunding the police. Overall, few Democrats specifically endorsed the concept, let alone the slogan, of defunding the police. There was very little of "defunding the police means giving greater support to housing, health, and education." The idea was opposed or ignored.

Yet, somehow Clyburn, Elissa Slotkin, and other House moderates appear convinced that the notion of defunding the police was electoral suicide.

But maybe Democrats were perceived by many voters as supporting police defunding because it of their overwhelming support of another social justice movement- black lives matter or, as it appears in writing, Black Lives Matter.

CNN exit polling found 57% of respondents have a "favorable view" of Black Lives Matter and 37% an "unfavorable view."  However, that same poll found that 49% believe the "economy" is "excellent/good" ("not good/poor," 50%).

That's no typographical error. With an economy worse than at any time since the Great Depression, roughly half of Americans allegedly believe it is in good or excellent shape. Opinions as to why, or whether President Trump is wholly, partially, or not at all responsible can differ. However, the notion that the economy is buzzing along smoothly is bizarre.

Thus, it is unlikely there is an actual +17 for Black Lives Matter (if at the polls) or black lives matter (if by phone). Probably, a large portion of whites heard or read "black lives matter" and were determined not to cast a vote for the notion that black lives don't matter because the vast majority of whites do believe the lives of blacks matter- or at least that they mustn't admit otherwise.

For many voters, an attitude toward defunding the police may be a proxy for an attitude toward the summertime protests of racial inequity.  The raison d'etre of Black Lives Matter is a national defunding of police- yet, voters claim they approve of it. Something, as they say, is not kosher.

It is likely that Clyburn et al. are on to something, and that prevalence of the "defund the police" slogan hurt Democrats who stayed a mile away from both the slogan and the concept. Asked a question about "black lives matter," voters nod yes; remind them of urban violence and their attitude changes- and it affects their vote.

Not all slogans are strategically damaging, of course. Nonetheless, Democrats have practiced inept messaging in recent years, and, however counter-intuitive, Black Lives Matter probably is no exception.


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Anything Goes

"Woman who killed husband's lover with 13 blows of a pickax says she regrets the last blow."

 If that sounds silly, a former president evidently begs to differ. On 60 Minutes

 “A president is a public servant. They are temporary occupants of the office, by design,” Obama told correspondent Scott Pelley. “And when your time is up, then it is your job to put the country first and think beyond your own ego, and your own interests, and your own disappointments.”

“My advice to President Trump is, if you want at this late stage in the game to be remembered as somebody who put country first, it’s time for you to do the same thing,” Obama said.

O.K., O.K.; Barack Obama is entitled to believe that if President Trump were to utter the words "Congratulations to Joe Biden," Trump should be remembered as somebody who put country first.

That would make Mr. Trump a true patriot, according to his predecessor, pretending the last four years were only a dream. Maybe Obama hasn't heard

More than 130 Secret Service officers who help protect the White House and the president when he travels have recently been ordered to isolate or quarantine because they tested positive for the coronavirus or had close contact with infected co-workers, according to three people familiar with agency staffing.

The spread of the coronavirus — which has sidelined roughly 10 percent of the agency’s core security team — is believed to be partly linked to campaign rallies that President Trump held in the weeks before the Nov. 3 election, according to the people who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the situation.

In all, roughly 300 Secret Service officers and agents have had to isolate or quarantine since March because they were infected or exposed to infected colleagues, according to two people with knowledge of the figures.

Of course, this was no accident on the part of the incumbent, but has been part of his covid-friendly strategy,  given he told Bob Woodward it is "passed through the air" and "more deadly" than "strenuous flu" and 19 days later assured Americans "this is like the flu."Nearly a quarter of a million deceased Americans later and a former President maintains that if Trump were only to acknowledge what almost every American understands- that Joe Biden will be President- he "would be remembered as someone who put country first."

Everything can be forgotten, Barack Obama believes, and has since he was elected President.  His "look forward, not backward" was a handy excuse for condoning Bush-era torture and illegal domestic surveillance and the Justice Department handing to corrupt financial executives a "don't even worry about jail" card.

So it shouldn't be surprising that Barack Obama believes all can be forgotten and forgiven if only the current incumbent bows to the inevitability of a Biden presidency.  Not surprising, but reprehensible.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

What Might Have Been

Media critic determined not to allow reality to intrude upon his world is oh, so outraged:

Whether obscene (ludicrous) or outrageous (depends on what the meaning of "outrageous" is), it is accurate. That brings us, oddly, to a seemingly unrelated profile by the Atlantic's Emma Green of mega-church pastor Andy Staley, who is the son of Charles Stanley, whom Green explains was "a televangelist and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention who wrote the devotional that President George W. Bush used to read each morning."

Some Christian pastors believe that encouraging believers and non-believers in prayer and study of Scripture is more important than conducting an ideological crusade. Staley the Younger is far more interested in preaching the Kingdom of God than in promoting politics of the left, right, or even of the middle. As Green tells it, Staley refuses to reveal which presidential candidate he voted for in 2020 and 2016, says "he’s a conservative guy with conservative values," and says his daughter "is a die-hard Trump fan.

Staley refuses to reveal which presidential candidate he voted for in 2020 and 2016, states "he’s a conservative guy with conservative values," and describes his daughter as "a die-hard Trump fan." Moreover, he remarks "If you’re asking me, ‘Did Donald Trump inflame, or make worse, or stir up racial tension’—I don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “I don’t know that I would place that on the shoulders of Donald Trump.”  And yet

In Stanley’s view, the biggest way in which Trump has damaged the reputation of the church is in his penchant for name-calling and belittling people: mocking a reporter who has a disability during a campaign rally, for example, or calling people from Mexico criminals and rapists. He believes that the president’s attacks on journalists were “a terrible move”: “The first thing totalitarian leaders or governments do is they silence the media,” he said. When high-profile evangelical leaders publicly align themselves with Trump, “the perception is unavoidable” that they believe that kind of rhetoric is okay, especially among the young people Stanley cares most about reaching. Trump’s language “should undermine his credibility with Christians. It certainly undermined his credibility with the generation that, again, has low to no tolerance for any of that,” he said.

Even the man Green notes is "a child of the religious right recognizes "the first thing totalitarian leaders or governments do is they silence the media." In one of the many efforts of the President to do so:

Nonetheless, there are people on the right and probably centrists in the media who will condemn Amanpour. Largely disregarded is that what we have witnessed from Trump is a President who expected to get re-elected and flex his muscles as never before. Trump needed to restrain his actions (if not his rhetoric) as he geared up over over the last four years for a bid to gain the mandate of a second term. And he would have claimed a mandate as no others have, for reasons no others have.

Amanpour seems to understand this; Reverend Staley, also. Others do, too, though for many people it's difficult to acknowledge that our self-proclaimed "greatest country in the world" came within 41-42 electoral votes of going down that totalitarian road.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Not Militias

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

So goes the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Nonetheless, at 26:56 of the (very choppy) video below, Max Brooks can be (sort of) seen remarking

The real danger we're facing is homegrown insurgency. Think about it. This is the first time since the 1990s that militia enlistment has gone up during a Republican administration. It always goes up during Democrats, down during Republicans.

Thankfully, Bill Maher asks ""Militia,' meaning"? and Brooks replies "militia meaning any sort of armed government- anti-government group...."

A tweet from Matthew Ingram, self-described as a writer "about digital media for the Columbus Journalism Review," thus presumably a credible individual:

The article, from the solidly left Media Matters For America, to which Miller links is entitled "Militia leader Stewart Rhodes says he has men stationed outside of D.C. ready to engage in violence on Trump's order." Timothy Johnson writes

Oath Keepers militia leader Stewart Rhodes said that he has armed men on standby outside of Washington, D.C., to supposedly prevent the 2020 presidential election from being stolen from President Donald Trump....

Rhodes also indicated his militia will be involved in a rally to support Trump planned for this weekend in the nation's capital.

Johnson goes on to note "the organization’s purpose has shifted from opposing the government to instead act as a pro-Trump vigilante group." However, Johnson twice otherwise invokes "militia" in his article of eight paragraphs.

But it is absurd to refer to such right-wing paramilitary groups as "militias".

The Second Amendment specifically grants to members of a "well-regulated militia"- and to no one else- the right "to keep and bear arms." The framers were not speaking of, nor anticipating, individuals forming an armed anti-government group.

The founders conceived of either "a part of the organized armed forces of a country liable to call only in emergency" or "the whole body of able-bodied male citizens declared by law as being subject to call to military service." They did not mean individuals banding together to upend the government or intimidate the government, or to keep in power their hero against the popular will.

Nonetheless, we have reasonable, well-meaning, even ideologically liberal people referring to the Proud Boys and other armed groups as "militias." 

It is probably a stretch to label them all "terrorists" because their intended target generally are not innocents but the targets of their vendetta. Nevertheless, they do not comprise a "militia." Rather, they are vigilantes and affording them the credibility of "militias" is linguistically nonsensical- and strategically dangerous.


Friday, November 13, 2020

Armed, Sometimes Dangerous

As in the cliche, there is a lot to unpack here:

Climate change is a matter of science and of fact. However, problems with policing go well beyond unarmed citizens being killed and is subject to interpretation- and misinterpretation- of data.

The videos do indeed rarely tell the whole story. And so it should be helpful to learn that The Washington Post in 2015 started recording the more than 5,764 incidents that have occurred by an on-duty police officer of a fatal shooting by an on-duty police officer. It found 3,344 victims were armed by a gun, some others with any combination of gun, knife, vehicle, toy weapon, or "other." It listed 169 cases as "unknown" and 366 as "unarmed."

As extensive as is the data presented, we cannot determine whether the number of unarmed individuals killed by a police officer has declined or increased in recent months or over the period of the (ongoing) study. However, we do know not only that the vast majority of victims has been armed but we do know of the demographics of the victim, as well as the annual number and circumstances of the killings. The Post explains

... the FBI in 2015 committed to improving its tracking and last month launched a system to track all police use-of-force incidents, including fatal shootings. The new system, however, is still voluntary...

The Post’s reporting shows that both the annual number and circumstances of fatal shootings and the overall demographics of the victims have remained constant over the past four years.

The dead: 45 percent white men; 23 percent black men; and 16 percent Hispanic men. Women have accounted for about 5 percent of those killed, and people in mental distress about 25 percent of all shootings.

About 54 percent of those killed have been armed with guns and 4 percent unarmed.

“We’ve looked at this data in so many ways, including whether race, geography, violent crime, gun ownership or police training can explain it, but none of those factors alone can explain how consistent this number appears to be,” said Geoffrey Alpert, a criminologist at the University of South Carolina who has studied police shootings for more than three decades.

Year to year, the statistics have remained relatively constant. It being Twitter, when Fang stated "police killings of unarmed have rapidly declined," he did not specify what time frame he was using, nor note that many of those armed lacked a gun. But if Fang was trying to make the point that most victims of police shootings are armed, he was being accurate. Moreover, killing a civilian is not justified merely because the victim was armed or even armed and threatening. and statistics never bring back the dead.

Nonetheless, one thing is clear. When a police officer shoots an individual, the odds that he (or she) is armed with a weapon of one sort or another is very, very good.  Often lost in the swirl of emotions and the appeal of identity politics, it is a fact is no less significant than it is inconvenient.



Thursday, November 12, 2020

Never Assume A Candidate Wants To Win

A Democratic-leaning political scientist would like a word with the Democratic Party:


The answer is "no."  Bitecofer believes Ossoff (presumably Reverend Warnock, also) should nationalize the campaign, which is to culminate in a vote on January 5, 2021. 

She's probably right that national issues should be featured by the Georgia Democratic Party to excite partisans to move them to vote, which otherwise may be difficult because the presidential election has concluded.  That is what occurred in that presidential race, which ended in Joe Biden gaining more popular votes than any candidate ever. Donald Trump now stands at #2, which did not prevent a Democratic victory. It was a base election, which the Georgia runoff also probably will be.

Bitecofer legitimately believes also that Jon Ossoff may not want to win.  It's impossible to determine because almost no one can know what he, or the Party, has in mind if he loses.  However, a candidate of one of the two major political parties disinterested in winning an election would not be unprecedented.

John McCain may have had no inkling when he selected Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate that she would prove to be an albatross around his neck in November. He may not have realized that courageously telling a supporter at a general election rally that no, Barack Obama is not an Arab, would dampen enthusiasm among Republicans. He may not even have understood that emphasizing that he and Palin are "mavericks" (accurate, within Republican Party politics) would be counter-productive when running against a guy who was aiming to be the first black President ever.

Yet, there is another clue. In a period when we are reminded of the graciousness of each losing presidential candidate to the winner over at least the past few decades, that of John McCain demands particular attention. On November 5, 2008 he stated in his concession speech

I've always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Sen. Obama believes that, too. But we both recognize that though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation's reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.

A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt's invitation of Booker T. Washington to visit — to dine at the White House — was taken as an outrage in many quarters. America today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States. Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.

"There is no better evidence," McCain maintained, that "America today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time," than "the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States." Barack Obama not only emerged victorious but "has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country."

It's hard to understand the reason even to vote against an individual whose victory he believed illustrated the fairness of the nation and its people. It would have been fair to ask the Arizona senator why he ran against the man whose victory confirmed that this is "the greatest nation on earth"  and whose election was needed to erase the stain of "the cruel and prideful bigotry" characterizing the first half of the 20th century. 

In the absence of concrete evidence to the contrary, issuance by a candidate lauding the election of his opponent must suggest that the loser never intended to win. So if victory in the Georgia runoff is not the highest priority for Jon Ossoff, other Georgia Democrats, or someone well-connected to the state party, they can take solace with the likelihood that twelve years ago, the GOP candidate for the presidency of the USA did not run his own race with steely-eyed determination.


Wednesday, November 11, 2020

No Joking Matter

It was on Wednesday night, when things were already looking bleak, but not hopeless, for President Trump when in Orlando, Florida the President's religious advisor, Paula White, appeared with son Brad Knight and 

led a marathon prayer service at the New Christian Destiny Centre, calling on the almighty for divine intervention in the presidential race.

In a video widely circulated on social media by Right Wing Watch, the “prosperity gospel” pastor can be seen denouncing the “demonic confederacies” working against Mr Trump and declaring that “angels from Africa, from South America” are coming to his aid.

"Angels are being dispatched from Africa right now," she said, adding, "They're coming here."

Speaking in tongues, in which a person utters sounds thought of as a secret language unknown to the speaker, features in Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity, as well as other religions.

Joined by Knight, White led a prayer service also on Thursday night. Not only is she a White but preaches a prosperity gospel, a happy coincidence for Trump. On Thursday, she vowed her followers would "override" the will of man and "we overturn it, we overturn it right now, and it will be no more, it will be no more because it is our right by the blood of Jesus, and you will give it to us."

In the video below, if you can look beyond the childish laughter of Ana Kasparian- who lends a note of childish levity- The Young Turks' Cenk Uygur can be seen explaining

Apparently God loves Joe Biden because the sound of victory seems to be headed on to Joe Biden. And she says God chose so I guess God chose Joe Biden. So once Biden is declared the winner, Paula White and all those pastors are just immediately going to flip and go "well, that's it, God wanted Joe Biden, we love Joe Biden then."

I remember when they all flipped and were in favor of Barack Obama because God had chosen everything and they said God was going to choose in 2008 and they said God was going to choose in 2012. And he did- he chose Barack Obama.

A little surprisingly Uygur, a secular Muslim, largely nailed it.  The of se individuals will not claim to love Joe Biden. Nonetheless, most white evangelicals (as the term is generally understood by non-theologians), whether or not advocates of the prosperity gospel, do believe God chooses. Moreover, they maintain that God chose (even) Barack Obama, however few actually voted for him.

They believe, as it's most often characterized, that God is in control. To them, this means not only that God controls human activity in the same manner that a parent controls her child, in which some minor decisions are left to the child, lest she grow up hopeless and helpless. It means that God is determinative; the Almighty is intimately involved with everything and everyone and at every time. God not only can make the final decision but does so invariably.

Uygur reminds us of Jesus' legendary concern for the poor and maintains "media, Democrats, as usual, are so scared to point these things out." He continues in a mocking voice "We don't want to offend religious people, we don't want to offend religious people." Yet

If you can't make fun of that, what has this world come to. Do you have any courage? That is why we allow fundamentalists- not all religious people- run roughshod over us because they just throw the religion card.

There are serious consequences when Republicans run roughshod over Democrats.  The left- and most Americans- will pay for decades in part because of the unwillingness or inability to challenge the GOP on religion in the recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. Democrats

trod extremely gingerly around anything involving Barrett’s religion or personal life. They instead sought to focus extensively on how her past comments suggest she might have prejudged cases on abortion rights and Obamacare.

In fact, the words “religion,” “Catholic,” “Christian” and “faith” were invoked in relation to religious issues about 80 times over two days of question-and-answer sessions with Barrett. Republicans and Barrett accounted for 75 of them; Democrats, only five.

Among the few times that Democrats did invoke faith, they praised Barrett for hers or sought to insulate themselves from the perception that they might be raising it as an issue.

It's probably tactically wise, except perhaps for professional comedians, to resist the urge to make fun of Paula White or other evangelical/Pentecostal Christians in favor of challenging them.  It is past time for media figures to ask such theologically and politically conservative Christians about the incidence of liberal or Democratic outcomes. A sample series of questions might be

-Was God responsible for the election of Joe Biden?

-If so, did you vote for him?

-If not, why were you defying the will of God?

That's only a start. But it's a necessary one, and cowardice is not a good look for journalists or a major political party.


The Lie Laughed At Around the World

I suppose if a guy would in the Oval Office advocate the execution of "a staffer who leaked a story ," it's not surprising th...