Monday, October 26, 2020

A Pledge of Allegiance To What?

We are a week away from the 2020 Joke-A-Thon, and I find myself wondering about a whole lotta stuff I never really wondered about before. Not that I haven't thought about the separation of church and state...I have...but never before have I considered the ramifications of losing that separation in this country. Now, I wonder if we are on the cusp of exactly that. 

From the Washington Post:  

This is a Patriot Church, part of an evolving network of nondenominational start-up congregations that say they want to take the country back for God. While most White conservative Christian churches might only touch on politics around election time and otherwise choose to keep the focus during worship on God, politics and religion are inseparable here. The Tennessee congregation is one of three Patriot Churches that formed in September. The other two are near Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., and in Spokane, Wash., and Peters says he is talking with several more pastors of existing churches who want to join them.
Stacy Kranitz for the Washington Post
The 50 or so people in attendance may identify as born-again or just as generic “Bible-loving” Christians. Peters’s flock is not affiliated with a specific denomination, but it does have a distinct identity. The Patriot Churches belong to what religion experts describe as a loosely organized Christian nationalist movement that has flourished under President Trump. In just four years, he has helped reshape the landscape of American Christianity by elevating Christians once considered fringe, including Messianic Jews, preachers of the prosperity gospel and self-styled prophets. At times, this made for some strange bedfellows, but the common thread among them is a sense of being under siege and a belief that America has been and should remain a Christian nation.

From his lectern during the worship service, Peters rails against perceived attacks on First Amendment freedoms, decrying government mandates and calling masks “face diapers.”

Having launched the Patriot Church outside Knoxville, Tenn., on the weekend of Sept. 11, he declares that the Christian faith in America is “under attack.” 

"One nation, under God," was controversial enough in 1954. It was certainly not a foregone conclusion that this was designed to be a "Christian" nation in the first place. A good example of the devolution of the separation of church and state is pretty well documented in the Pledge of Allegiance:

Eisenhower made the change to under God official on Flag Day, June 14, 1954, signing it into law and saying:

From this day forward, the millions of our school children will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of our nation and our people to the Almighty.... In this way we are reaffirming the transcendence of religious faith in America's heritage and future; in this way we shall constantly strengthen those spiritual weapons which forever will be our country's most powerful resource, in peace or in war.

And there you have it, boys and girls, when the separation of church and state, as provided for by the Founding Folks, was rendered null and void.  

I suspect the Founding Folks had an idea this kind of thing was possible, and did what they could, if not to stop it, to slow any progress toward that point. Look, it's not like there weren't people who wanted this to be a "Christian" nation in the first place. That's not news. But these days, those who are looking for a confirmation of some kind of "spiritual rebirth" of this nation see spiritual as decidedly their brand of Christian. Frankly, I don't see that as much different from any other philosophy pointing to itself as the only true philosophy. Doesn't much matter which ism you're talking about. The moment the true believers start believing everyone else should be converted/eliminated/oppressed/cremated the differences don't make a hill o'beans difference. 

But back to the Pledge of Allegiance. I used to stand so proudly to recite those words, even with the under God addition. I mean, I didn't know they had just added that, and I didn't care. My country won World War II. They beat the Nazis. My dad beat the Nazis. I was a proud American Jew. There was nothing Jew-ish about me. I was 100% American Jew and proud of it. Those extra words which, I would come to learn much later, bothered my parents, didn't bother me. Yet. 

High school was another story. High school was Vietnam and civil wrongs. High school was a government I so disagreed with that I didn't think of myself as a proud American Jew any more. I was just a Jew. I would stand when the loudspeaker in homeroom said to, but my hand would not go over my heart nor would my lips move. Not even a trip to the principal's office changed that. Mr. Tennent was scary on a good day, but he was no match for angry me. I told him I would continue to stand and remain silent, as was my constitutionally guaranteed right. I would stand for what America could be, but I would be silent because of what America was at that moment.

That stance would continue through most of college and grad school. Eventually I came to grips with my citizenship, but age, experience, and the ability to read had tarnished my image of America. Yeah, sure, the blinders were off. I learned about class, oppression, mobs, lynching, and Wounded Knee. I didn't think there was too much difference between a Democrat administration and a Republican one...until Dubya prevailed over Gore in the Supreme Court, and 9/11 happened. But at no time did I believe that a POTUS could be anything less than basically honorable, even if politically misguided and possibly the stupidest person on the planet. 

I hated Dubya and his wars. I thought he was wrong from the get-go...but he was still the leader of the free world and respected as such. I reveled in the election of Barack Obama and entertained the idea that maybe, just maybe... even if we weren't really turning a corner... there was a corner in sight. I wanted to believe we were on the way to becoming a kinder, more compassionate nation. 

Then came 2016. And that's all I'm gonna say about that. 

I have no illusions that our national nightmare is drawing to a close. No matter who wins this election, there will be discontent and I expect it will spill into the streets. The confirmation of Coney Barrett is not an accident; it's a set-up.  I do not believe there will be a transfer of power, peaceful or otherwise. 

And desperately I want to be wrong. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

That's all. 

About next Monday night. ...I will not be publishing. There is no point. I will probably write late Tuesday or early Wednesday. Just wanted you to know. 

Monday, October 19, 2020

Yes, We have No Delusions; We Have No Delusions Today.

I was thinking about my dad today. Come to think of it, I've been thinking about him more than usual lately. Yeah, I miss him. I miss the snarky rejoinders, off-color jokes, and excruciatingly bad puns. There has been a dearth of lively riposte in my life of late. I can't lay all that blame on Dad; Ziggy owns a fair chunk with his poorly planned departure. But that's all in the past, and I'm here without their constant commentary.

What I was thinking about was how much I am not enjoying this election. I'm at a point where I don't wanna watch the news. I've stopped listening to the usual array of pundits. I can't even sit through REAL TIME with BILL MAHER these days. It's all so annoying. I've taken to reading books about stuff that has no relation to anything. 

I'm reading The Romanov Empress (by C.W. Gortner) about Princess Dagmar of Denmark who became Tsarina Maria Feodorovna when she married Sasha, aka Alexander III. It's a novel, in the first person, but a very interesting take on a woman who stood at the center of the collapse of monarchical Europe. Her sister was married to Edward VII of the UK, her brother was king of Denmark. Her father was referred to as "The Father-in-Law of Europe." Anyway, she was also the mother of Nicholas II, the last Tsar. In other words, she lived through the worst any mother could experience, from losing babies to burying adult children, to hearing about the murder of her other children. She was her own Greek tragedy. But she was also an interesting tough old bird. 

I am fascinated by women in government, whether they are born into it, married into it, or elected into it. Women who are powerful have to work ten times harder than a man to get from point A to point B, never mind point Z. Histories written by men tend to dismiss or denigrate powerful women, and this tsarina is no different. You have to wade through a whole lotta opinionated men to get to the center of Maria Feodorovna's steel spine. For good or for bad, she went to bat for the people of Russia, pushing her father-in-law's original idea of a constitution and a participatory Duma. Didn't do her much good; she was an outlier and no one was interested in her opinions on state. Nursing and war relief? Sure. 

Women have been having the same discussions with their husbands about power since someone thought up the idea of a headman. Mrs. Headman probably didn't sit around combing mammoth hair into thread. In fact, I would venture to guess Mrs. Headman was a very active participant in the running of the village because unless the women were of a mind to cooperate, not much got done. I am certain that Henry II was at odds with Eleanor of Aquitaine because she told him in no uncertain terms to naff off. And I am equally certain that all those history king movies where the women sit placidly on the dais are totally bullshit. 

Which is why I don't understand why having a vagina precludes you from being elected to the highest office in this land. 

There is something so fundamentally wrong with American society when a woman who is supposed to be brilliant is part of a group that calls its women handmaids, and instructs them to be subservient to their husbands. People will point to Victorian England as a time when women were subservient and subdued...but hey, folks, Victoria had a rather productive uterus and she was Empress. Excuse were falling over themselves taking direction from her. Queen Elizabeth doesn't seem to be suffering fools with any regularity, either. 

Ergo, the docile subservient woman is a myth promulgated by men who can't deal with women in general. (Which really makes me wonder about Melania.) Men who want that myth are not men; they are cowards. They are abusers. They are weak and fragile. They can't control stuff, so they blame strong women. Did you catch our Feckless Leader begging suburban white women to like him at a rally in Johnstown, Pennsylvania?

Suburban women, will you please like me? Please. Please.

 Listening to Kamala Harris at the VP debate was an enlightening experience for me. 

Her modulated toddler-teacher tone when saying, "Mr. Vice President, I'm speaking. Okay?" was so wonderfully maternal in the delivery of that line, that I figured the look on his face must be the one he gives Mother when she corrects him. He has no balls and Harris knew it. That line was so take no prisoners in the gentlest, most unassuming way of all.

When Kamala Harris has to use her patient toddler voice to silence Mike Pence, is it because she really thinks he's a child...or because she knows he is  afraid of the power of the vagina? Long have I believed that men like Pence and his moronic master are abusers of women not because women are weak, but because women can do one thing they cannot: 

give birth.

If these so-called Christian soldiers are supposed to be superior beings, partnering with their God as masculine heads of household all because they have a penis, why do they have to control women? Seriously, if they're so good at being masterminds, why is it necessary to belittle and humiliate women? Well, maybe it's not actually about the dingle. Maybe it's because once the dingle has done its thing, they're done. Women grow the babies. Women feed the babies. And ultimately women teach the babies. The man's role is ZERO in the extended game plan.

Stop to think about it for a moment. Wouldn't that be the perfect reason to oppose reproductive rights? That gives the vagina owner the ability to control life and non-life. In the end, that's just too scary for the weakling sex...and I don't mean women.

Feckless Leader grabs 'em by the pussy. Little Boy Pence calls his wife "Mother." Amy Coney Barrett's husband calls her his "handmaid." 

I cannot speak for other women out there, but I find it all rather creepy. 

And the really creepy part? Almost half this country thinks all of that is okay. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
14 days left until the election.
If you haven't cast your ballot already,
please do so as soon as you can.

Remember, only you can prevent 
forest fires. 

And sorry....I cannot help myself

Monday, October 12, 2020

Who Will Speak For The Voiceless?

I listened to Amy Coney Barrett's opening statement, and I came away with the sense I was listening to a 15-year old giving a report about the Supreme Court. This is the part where the theater director in me takes over, and I start thinking about casting issues. In a bunch of ways, she reminded me of Doogie Howser or Young Sheldon: both kids working above their age grade. Only this Doogie Howser wants to take away public health insurance without a replacement plan in sight. For a woman who insists she is pro-life, she writes decisions that are strictly pro-death. Her flat, expressionless voice shoots ice into the veins of those around her. There is something so scary about her that I don't even want to write about it. And I'm not talking about the Handmaid color of her dress or the mask. 

When I was a kid, there was a kid in my class from grade school through high school named Robert Lehman. He was above and beyond smarter than anyone else in school. He was our class valedictorian, he went on to Yale. He was a really nice guy. And when he spoke of important matters, he had a cadence to his voice that years later, I can still hear. It was a measured sound, a thoughtful sound, and, even when his dander was up, a gentle sound. Bobby talking about serious stuff meant you stopped and listened because otherwise you would be missing something important. You didn't have to agree with him, but you probably wanted to listen to his argument. You would learn something. 

There is something to be said for kiddie gravitas, but even more to be said for being the grown-up in the room with gravitas. One has to recognize one's own place, but even more crucial is to recognize one's limitations. The quote Bobby chose for his senior page is, perhaps, more important today than when he selected the poem by Alexander Pope (1688-1744):

A little learning is a dangerous thing ;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring :
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.
Fired at first sight with what the Muse imparts,
In fearless youth we tempt the heights of Arts ;
While from the bounded level of our mind
Short views we take, nor see the lengths behind,
But, more advanced, behold with strange surprise
New distant scenes of endless science rise !
So pleased at first the towering Alps we try,
Mount o’er the vales, and seem to tread the sky ;
The eternal snows appear already past,
And the first clouds and mountains seem the last ;
But those attained, we tremble to survey
The growing labours of the lengthened way ;
The increasing prospect tires our wandering eyes,
Hills peep o’er hills, and Alps on Alps arise !

That sound that I remember so well is the sound I wanna hear coming out of the mouths of people who wanna sit on the Big Bench. Whatever her qualifications, and I know this is gonna sound ageist, I want a mature, older human sitting in that chamber, one with extensive life experience, one who has seen and heard just about everything, and who understands that no two people, cases, decisions, or kids are alike; each requires deliberation and consideration. "I heard this kid...." is not life experience. It is not maturity born of presence. I don't care how brilliant, erudite, or level-headed she's supposed to be, she lacks the ability, based on her statements to the press and others, to really be an Everywoman to We, the People. 

I find that in terms of SCOTUS, I am possibly more conservative than most people might think. I believe that the Constitution is a valid framework, but I don't believe it should be permitted to be a stagnant document. We, the People, of 2020 are not the same We, the People of 1820 or even 1920. This country changes all the time, and the law must address those changes. Just as Clarence "The Clown" Thomas's marriage would be invalid in most states before 1967, civil rights must also address gender identity norms that have become fluid. Notorious RBG was a champion for civil rights for all citizens in this nation. The person that succeeds (not replaces) her must be a champion for those who have been denied voices for so long. The originalism that Coney Barrett flouts is unrealistic and sets the stage for discriminatory behavior. I do not believe she will serve ALL the people. And I have a problem with that. 

In keeping with the waning hours of October 12th,  I want to take a moment to recognize the State of Minnesota for its ongoing work to honor the IP roots of this place. Bde Maka Ska is what everyone calls that lake now. The confluence of the two rivers is now correctly Bdote Minisota. 

It's more than a lake; this is Ziggy's high school as well as both the Senior and Junior Sons: Henry Sibley High School. First, they went after the school logo...long overdue. The "Indian" Warrior was replaced with a stylized generic warrior. But that matter of Henry himself remained. Ziggy woulda signed off on that change in a heartbeat. My late MIL, a historian and high school teacher, felt the school should never have been named for him in the first place. When it came to the local population of the area he was to govern, he was positively evil and ruthless. 

You can read about him here: Henry Sibley, 'pretty bad guy,' may lose his namesake high school 

The Indigenous Peoples of North America are still battling for their own civil rights. Ever hear anyone talk about reparations for them?  Ever hear of the Indian Civil Rights Act  of 1968?

With the law of the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA) at the time, also called the Indian Bill of Rights, the indigenous people were guaranteed many civil rights they had been fighting for.[10] The ICRA supports the following:[11]

  • Right to free speechpress, and assembly
  • Protection from unreasonable invasion of homes
  • Right of criminal defendant to a speedy trial, to be advised of the charges, and to confront any adverse witnesses
  • Right to hire an attorney in a criminal case
  • Protection against self incrimination
  • Protection against cruel and unusual punishment, excessive bail, incarceration of more than one year and/or a fine in excess of $5,000 for any one offense
  • Protection from double jeopardy or ex post facto laws
  • Right to a jury trial for offenses punishable by imprisonment
  • Equal law protection due process

Land sovereignty, hunting, fishing, and voting rights, along with access to education and health care remain unresolved, ongoing issues, especially for those who continue to live on the reservations in Minnesota and elsewhere. And don't go saying casinos fixed all that...they did not. IP gambling has helped even the playing fields in some places, but not all. The quest for BASIC civil rights remains a struggle. 

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week

In this state, we do not observe Columbus day, 

we observe Indigenous Peoples Day,

a small, but significant, step.

Monday, October 5, 2020

Cynicism and Amorality.

Fred Hiat, Editorial page editor of The Washington Post published an op/ed piece on Sunday afternoon. It opened with the following lines: 

There is never a silver lining to somebody else’s illness, but you might have thought that President Trump’s infection at least could have offered a learning moment for his supporters. 

If so, you would have underestimated the cynicism and amorality of the Trump campaign.   

This was written before the late afternoon joyride to wave at his loyal subjects amassed without masks (for the most part) outside the hospital grounds. 

Then came the news that he came to Minnesota already showing symptoms, and ignored our own mask mandates. It's interesting to note that three most loyal members of the idiot alliance were on the plane with him, also without masks. Why would he want to run the risk of infecting his slavish supporters? I can think of 2 reasons, the anthropological and the practical. 

There have been narcissistic leaders since the birth of clan living. Everyone has run across some person who thinks he/she knows better than anyone else how to run a clan/town/city/county/country/planet. There are some cases where that person can do a pretty good job. Sometimes, like Napoleon, they start out doing a pretty good job until the God complex kicks in. This is not news. Egyptians, Romans, Peruvians, and Japanese all, at one point or another, worshipped their various rulers as deities or demigods. One would hope we have come a long way since those days, although there are still groups who continue to consider sovereigns to be appointed by G-d. Sure. When we get to modern narcissistic leaders, we have a better sense of how they got to that elevated place because, basically, the printing press (read that as all media) pretty much leaves a paper trail of their history. What never ceases to amaze me is how the liars and clowns manage to get into power in the first place. 

Liars and clowns trade on fear. It's their best weapon. They want you to believe there is a boggart* out there waiting to get you. This scary thing can be a group, a philosophy, or a person. Doesn't much matter what it is. The liars and clowns pound on this is as functionally scare-able; they continue their rhetoric as if the boggart is real and the inability to see it makes that person an imbecile. It's an easy way to divide a community or nation, an easy wedge to pound on once there is a small cadre of true believers. My favorite example is ANTIFA. Feckless keeps talking about it as though it was a name of an organization. Interestingly, he insists that anti-Fascists are to be feared, when, in fact, this entire nation was built on anti-fascism and we fought wars against fascists. But Feckless Leader says anti-fascism is unAmerican. Hmmmm. 

Now there is a segment of the population that subscribes to these untruths, along with a number of others like Joe Biden wants to defund the police and universal health care is socialist. (Ummm, what would one call Medicare?) There is a disconnect between what is real and what is not; that line is increasingly blurred as Feckless Leader keeps hammering on the nonsense.  The bigger the lie, the more people believe it.He carries on as though he were, indeed, invincible, attending functions after it was clear...according to reports...that he was ill. He is airlifted to Walter Reed out of an "abundance of caution," and sent videos and texts showing he is still in control, still working, and obviously not bothered by COVID because, after all, he has special access to his which he has a financial stake.Obviously, this obese, outta shape, junk-food devouring cult figure is immune to the effects of the disease thereby becoming a self-proclaimed Übermensch.

And for the practical part?  Well, practical if you are a supportive of this brainless narcissist. 

I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago

Don't be afraid of Covid ? 

At this writing, over TWO HUNDRED AND TEN THOUSAND AMERICANS ARE DEAD and we shouldn't be afraid of COVID-19? What's next? He's gonna lay hands???????

For the record, as I write this, he just got off Marine-One, walked into the White House into a crowd and removed his mask, even though the White House is already declared a hot zone. EVEN if he is already infected, he is highly contagious. He has to be the driving part of this story, tailored to his fantasy world, showing him as some kind of Übermensch. 

Never mind the campaign...this highlights the cynicism and amorality of Feckless Leader...

Which brings me to part 2: he is not infected with COVID-19, he never was infected, but with a little luck, maybe he will be infected....but he's not infected now.

The Twilight Zone doctor briefing on Saturday should've set off every bell and whistle in the known universe. They couldn't even decide on how to describe his version of the illness. If his blood ox was down, maybe it was because his sphincter was cutting off the air flow. That would certainly be a more plausible excuse. The Doctor Clownie show said they were giving him dexamethasone....really? Are they serious? That's for people who are seriously ill. Side-effects make it contra-indicated for less-than-severe cases. 

Then he demands to go home and they send him home. As soon as he gets off the chopper and walks into the crowd waiting for him, he removes his mask. FUCK the people that are standing there! He is inviting them to become infected by him IF he is actually infected. Which should be one more sign he is not infected. Add to that the White House announcement that they are not following the protocols for contact tracing. This has moved far beyond absurd; it is downright dangerous.

Do you get some kind of bragging rights if you get COVID-19 from Feckless Leader? Is this like being the king's mistress? If you get herpes or chlamydia from the royal dick, is it still a serious disease? Ya, sure, you betcha. 

When the chopper ride didn't give him the sympathy boost he wanted, he went for the dread-er disease version, followed by the hand-waving joy ride around Walter Reed. That didn't do much for him either, so he went for videos and tweeting. This is the epitome of fake news. 

This is Feckless Leader's version of, "I don't feel good; I don't wanna go to school today," that same excuse he probably used when he didn't wanna take a test or do a report. You know what I mean...kinda like bone spurs. 

Two specific items come to mind. The first is exactly what everyone thinks: after the Cleveland debacle, it should come as no surprise that he doesn't wanna get on the stage with Vice President Biden. He made an unmitigated ass out of himself...compounded by his own ridiculous assertions that he won the debate. Really? Maybe on Twilight Zone planet, but sure as hell not on this one. 

The second is more devious: the confirmation of the Handmaid Coney Barrett as Justice. The fake illness, like every other whacko thing this guy does, is a red herring. It's to divert attention from Amy Coney Barrett. IF the White House is a hot spot, and IF he is working on spreading, not controlling the virus, infecting the rest of the government is a sure-fire way to delay elections. IF the focus is taken off the confirmation of the new justice and she gets in, she will be the pivot vote in overturning the election. 

You think I'm kidding? I am not. These things don't happen by chance, not with guys like Stephen "that shonda" Miller in the background. None of this is arbitrary. These guys are pros; they know exactly what they are doing and they are counting on the rest of us setting our hair on fire.

The next 30 days require cold calculation on our part. I'm not convinced anything will save this election, or get that fat-assed orange outta the White House.  Vote. Drive people to vote. Drive people to drop off their ballots in person. But sulking this one out is not a viable least not if you want to have a democracy at the end of this ordeal.

The Wifely Person's Tip o'the Week
The difference between Donald Trump and G-d?
G-d does not believe She is Donald Trump.


*BOGGART: it occurred to me that bogeyman or boogey-man may be construed as racist even though neither actually is. Turns out J.K.Rowling used a real word to describe the scary thing in the closet. A BOGGART is an old English word for a malevolent spirit or goblin-like creature.