Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Social media line of the night

Courtesy of our friend Gino:

The Dems need fresh blood... So they trot out another Kennedy...

Should work great.

Americans are dreamers, too

The United States is a compassionate nation. We are proud that we do more than any other country to help the needy, the struggling, and the underprivileged all over the world. But as President of the United States, my highest loyalty, my greatest compassion, and my constant concern is for America's children, America's struggling workers, and America's forgotten communities. I want our youth to grow up to achieve great things. I want our poor to have their chance to rise.

So tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties -- Democrats and Republicans -- to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion, and creed. My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans -- to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream. Because Americans are dreamers too.
Emphasis mine. That's the winning line from last night's State of the Union address. If you want to know why a year of unrelenting attacks from the opposing party and the mainstream news media (distinction without a difference, of course) have not felled Le Grand Orange, this is your answer. Donald Trump is speaking to an audience that much of Washington has chosen to ignore. And when the Democrats in the hall sit on their hands, they send another message.

As a general rule, SOTU speeches don't move the needle much. This one might, not so much because of what Donald Trump said, but because it's become clear that the two parties may share a land mass, but they live in different countries. And the country the Democrats are proffering is a foreign land.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

McCabe and Mr. Mueller

If you want to understand the sort of people who run our government and how they operate, this story from Mollie Hemingway is crucial:
The FBI’s top brass initiated conversations with a White House official that were quickly leaked to CNN, according to a new book.

Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe asked to speak privately with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus following a February 2017 intelligence briefing. The scene is described in “Media Madness,” Howard Kurtz’s new book on the press and its relationship with the Trump administration. McCabe said he asked for the meeting to tell Priebus that “everything” in a New York Times story authored by Michael S. Schmidt, Mark Mazzetti, and Matt Apuzzo was “bullsh-t.”
Well, yes. Way too much of what is in the NYT is bovine fecal matter. We continue:
McCabe claimed to want Priebus to know the FBI’s perspective that this story was not true. Priebus pointed to the televisions that were going non-stop on the story. He asked if the FBI could say publicly what he had just told him. McCabe said he’d have to check, according to the book.

McCabe reportedly called back and said he couldn’t do anything about it. Then-FBI director James Comey reportedly called later and also said he couldn’t do anything, but did offer to brief the Senate Intelligence Committee on the matter later that week, suggesting they’d spill the beans publicly. You’ll never guess what happened next, according to the book:
Actually, I bet we all could, but here you go:
Now, a week later, CNN was airing a breaking news story naming Priebus. According to ‘multiple U.S. officials,’ the network said, ‘the FBI rejected a White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump’s associates and Russians known to U.S. intelligence.’

Priebus was stunned by the implication that he was pressuring law enforcement. Had he been set up? Why was the FBI leaking this information when one of its top officials had initiated the conversation?
Because Andrew McCabe is a weasel. And Reince Priebus was a trusting guy from Wisconsin who didn't understand how the game is played. In other words, this is what happened (video not safe for work):

And these sorts of games continued. Back to Hemingway:
This story gives a glimpse into how that original Russia narrative may have been spread around to overly compliant journalists and other members of the “resistance.” It was the hysteria surrounding this and other stories that led the White House to be frustrated with a law enforcement agency and chief playing games. As Comey admitted under oath, he did tell President Trump three times that Trump was not under investigation. These private statements to Trump occurred while Comey publicly insinuated the opposite. This story above fits the same pattern.
These are the dedicated public servants Adam Schiff and the rest of the Democrats are claiming deserve deference. And these are the friends of Robert Mueller.

Monday, January 29, 2018

You know when they say, "Read the Whole Thing?"

Yes, you should read the whole thing in this case. It's a speech by Daniel Greenfield, given to a Tea Party group (yes, they still exist) in South Carolina. And while I wish Greenfield's take on things weren't true, it is. Excerpts:
But it’s not guns that make a civil war. It’s politics.

Guns are how a civil war ends. Politics is how it begins.

How do civil wars happen?

Two or more sides disagree on who runs the country. And they can’t settle the question through elections because they don’t even agree that elections are how you decide who’s in charge.

That’s the basic issue here. Who decides who runs the country? When you hate each other but accept the election results, you have a country. When you stop accepting election results, you have a countdown to a civil war.
Do you doubt this? Consider the evidence Greenfield presents:
Republicans can win an election, but they have a major flaw. They’re not leftists.
That’s what the leftist dictatorship looks like.

The left lost Congress. They lost the White House. So what did they do? They began trying to run the country through Federal judges and bureaucrats.

Every time that a Federal judge issues an order saying that the President of the United States can’t scratch his own back without his say so, that’s the civil war.

Our system of government is based on the constitution, but that’s not the system that runs this country.

The left’s system is that any part of government that it runs gets total and unlimited power over the country.

If it’s in the White House, then the president can do anything. And I mean anything. He can have his own amnesty for illegal aliens. He can fine you for not having health insurance. His power is unlimited.

He’s a dictator.

But when Republicans get into the White House, suddenly the President can’t do anything. He isn’t even allowed to undo the illegal alien amnesty that his predecessor illegally invented.

A Democrat in the White House has “discretion” to completely decide every aspect of immigration policy. A Republican doesn’t even have the “discretion” to reverse him.

That’s how the game is played. That’s how our country is run.
Do you doubt that? Consider the spectacle we've been treated to this weekend. The MSM reports that Trump wanted to fire Robert Mueller. It didn't happen, of course -- Mueller has been doing whatever the hell he wants for nearly a year. But because it's been reported that Trump considered getting rid of Mueller, and may have even given an order to do so before he was talked out of it, he's guilty of obstruction of justice. Just thinking about opposing the work of someone who, ultimately, serves at his pleasure, is prima facie evidence of a crime.

You want more? Greenfield has more:
There’s no consistent legal standard. Only a political one.

Under Obama, states weren’t allowed to enforce immigration laws. That was the job of the Federal government. And the states weren’t allowed to interfere with the job that the Feds weren’t doing.


Now Trump comes into office and starts enforcing immigration laws again. And California announces it’s a sanctuary state and passes a law punishing businesses that cooperate with Federal immigration enforcement.

So what do we have here?

It’s illegal for states to enforce immigration law because that’s the province of the Federal government. But it’s legal for states to ban the Federal government from enforcing immigration law.

The only consistent pattern here is that the left decided to make it illegal to enforce immigration law.

It may do that sometimes under the guise of Federal power or states rights. But those are just fronts. The only consistent thing is that leftist policies are mandatory and opposing them is illegal.

Everything else is just a song and dance routine.
Our friend Gino lives in California, as does Greenfield. Gino has been making this same argument for a long time now. And there are even more examples than what I've shared here. But they are all at the link. So hit the link. And think long and hard about what Greenfield is saying and what it means.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Cleanup Time

Do you believe the federal government acts with integrity? At bottom, that's what's going on. Sharyl Attkisson makes the point:
There are two overarching issues.

First, there’s the alleged improper use of politically-funded opposition research to justify secret warrants to spy on U.S. citizens for political purposes.

Second, if corruption is ultimately identified at high levels in our intel agencies, it would necessitate a re-examination of every case and issue the officials touched over the past decade — or two — under administrations of both parties.

This is why I think the concerns transcend typical party politics.

It touches everybody. It’s potentially monumental.
It's important to understand what happened. Back to Attkisson:
[Sen. Charles] Grassley also pointed out that agencies accused of possible improprieties are the ones controlling the information. It’s the FBI who may have misused the unverified “dossier” opposition research, allegedly presenting it to a secret court as if it were verified intelligence.

“[FBI] Director [James] Comey testified in 2017 that it was ‘salacious and unverified’,” said Grassley. “So, it was a collection of unverified opposition research funded by a political opponent in an election year. Would it be proper for the Obama administration — or any administration — to use something like that to authorize further investigation that intrudes on the privacy of people associated with its political opponents? That should bother civil libertarians of any political stripe.”
It should, but if doesn't. Having other people find out what you've done bothers them, though.
Meantime, the Department of Justice has officially warned the House Intelligence Committee not to release its memo. It's like the possible defendant in a criminal trial threatening prosecutors for having the audacity to reveal alleged evidence to the judge and jury.

This is the first time I can recall open government groups and many reporters joining in the argument to keep the information secret. They are strangely uncurious about alleged improprieties with implications of the worst kind: Stasi-like tactics used against Americans. “Don’t be irresponsible and reveal sources and methods,” they plead.
If the sources and methods are as corrupt as the people in charge are, it all needs to be revealed. And it's time to clean things up.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Mostly open thread

Got a late start this morning and ran out of time, but herewith a few thoughts to get started:

  • I can't see why Trump would want to tell Robert Mueller anything other than to piss up a rope.
  • The four players who were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame were the right four. 
  • Someone should tell the Dreamers that blocking the entrance to Disneyland is not a good way to gain sympathy for their cause. Don't anger your potential allies.
Any of those would be great topics for the morning. Or if you have others, share those!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Epistemology 500

We have two versions of the story and they are incompatible. First, Michael Goodwin:
During the financial crisis, the federal government bailed out banks it declared “too big to fail.” Fearing their bankruptcy might trigger economic Armageddon, the feds propped them up with taxpayer cash.

Something similar is happening now at the FBI, with the Washington wagons circling the agency to protect it from charges of corruption. This time, the appropriate tag line is “too big to believe.”

Yet each day brings credible reports suggesting there is a massive scandal involving the top ranks of America’s premier law enforcement agency. The reports, which feature talk among agents of a “secret society” and suddenly missing text messages, point to the existence both of a cabal dedicated to defeating Donald Trump in 2016 and of a plan to let Hillary Clinton skate free in the classified email probe.

If either one is true — and I believe both probably are — it would mean FBI leaders betrayed the nation by abusing their powers in a bid to pick the president.
Meanwhile, this cabal is trying to move in for the kill on Le Grand Orange. Politico:
Amid new signs that special counsel Robert Mueller is pursuing an obstruction of justice case against President Donald Trump, Republicans in Congress have intensified their own investigations of the Justice Department's and FBI's handling of inquiries into Trump’s ties to Russia.

Tuesday brought several dramatic developments in the Russia saga, including the news that Mueller recently interviewed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the first Cabinet official known to be questioned in the investigation. The New York Times also reported that former FBI Director James Comey was interviewed by Mueller last year.
Meanwhile, the Democrats have a task list for two social media giants:
Top-ranking Democrats in the House and the Senate are calling on Twitter and Facebook to launch investigations of potential Russian-linked accounts pushing for the release of a controversial congressional memo.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), and the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asking that they “provide a public report to Congress and the American public by January 26” on the matter.

Facebook and Twitter confirmed receipt of the letter.
Apparently, only Russian bots want the Nunes memo released, you see. Is that true? Back to the linked article from The Hill:
The memo in question was drafted by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and is believed by some Republicans to show political bias in the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) probe of potential links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.

Schiff and Feinstein in their letter cited data by the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, which found that Russian bots on Twitter were advocating for legislators to make the memo public.

A source familiar with Twitter’s analytics said “the hashtags appear to be organically trending,” and seem to not be the result of a Russian led influence campaign.
So what is true? I have no idea. I'm a guy in the suburbs of Minneapolis/St. Paul, sitting at his dining room table. I haven't seen the evidence. I'm not even sure what the evidence is, really. As for the larger dynamic, it could be that the Republicans are trying to undermine Mueller because he's getting close to the truth, or it could be that Mueller is moving fast because he's built his entire enterprise on a foundation of crap. We don't know. We're going to know soon, though. The race is on.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Apropos of nothing

There's no future
No future
No future for you

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Hey, guess what? Missing documents!
The Justice Department has turned over to Congress additional text messages involving an FBI agent who was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigative team following the discovery of derogatory comments about President Donald Trump.

But the department also said in a letter to lawmakers that its record of messages sent to and from the agent, Peter Strzok, was incomplete because the FBI, for technical reasons, had been unable to preserve and retrieve about five months' worth of communications.
Technical reasons. Technically, the 18-minute gap in the Watergate tapes was a technical problem, too. There's more:
In addition to the communications already made public, the Justice Department on Friday provided [Sen. Ron] Johnson's committee with 384 pages of text messages, according to a letter from the Wisconsin lawmaker that was obtained by The Associated Press.

But, according to the letter, the FBI told the department that its system for retaining text messages sent and received on bureau phones had failed to preserve communications between Strzok and Page over a five-month period between Dec. 14, 2016, and May 17, 2017. May 17 was the date that Mueller was appointed as special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation.

The explanation for the gap was "misconfiguration issues related to rollouts, provisioning, and software upgrades that conflicted with the FBI's collection capabilities."
Of course, Strzok went to work for Robert Mueller. It's mind-boggling, really. But there's more:
In Johnson's letter to Wray, he asks whether the FBI has any records of communications between Strzok and Page during that five-month window and whether the FBI had searched their non-FBI phones for additional messages. He also asks for the "scope and scale" of any other records from the Clinton investigation that have been lost.
This is a crucial question. If all the records are gone, that's bad enough, but if only the Strzok stuff has gone missing, we're talking about a horrific scandal. What's available is bad enough:
One of the messages references a change in language to Comey's statement closing out the email case involving Clinton, Trump's Democratic opponent in the 2016 presidential election. While an earlier draft of the statement said Clinton and President Barack Obama had an email exchange while Clinton was "on the territory" of a hostile adversary, the reference to Obama was at first changed to "senior government official" and then omitted entirely in the final version. 
In another exchange, the two express displeasure about the timing of Lynch's announcement that she would defer to the FBI's judgment on the Clinton investigation. That announcement came days after it was revealed that the attorney general and former President Bill Clinton had an impromptu meeting aboard her plane in Phoenix, though both sides said the email investigation was never discussed. 
Strzok said in a July 1 text message that the timing of Lynch's announcement "looks like hell." And Page appears to mockingly refer to Lynch's decision to accept the FBI's conclusion in the case as a "real profile in courag(e) since she knows no charges will be brought."
These people are the Justice Department. It's a bad joke and the more we learn, the worse it gets.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- History Changer Edition

Old dude, the Vikings fans are claiming that the curse is over after the Diggs touchdown last weekend. Are they right?

It does take sting off of Drew Pearson a bit, I suspect. 

The Eagles also think they have been getting overlooked, and I feel they have a fair point. Also, is Tom Brady going answer the bell?

So many questions. But you're going to answer them, right?

Yep. That's what I do. I'm feeling the HYYYYYPPPPEEE!, and it is time to watch me work.

Jacksonville Jaguars (+7) vs. New England Patriots. The Patriots were widely expected to hold onto their crown and glide past Jacksonville, but now Tom Brady has the most talked about finger in New England this week. I expect Brady will answer the bell, because the man is a competitor and would be generally aware that his absence could deflate the Patriots. Jacksonville has been a great story, and their defense is something that I feel could be an equalizer. Blake Bortles is probably the worst quarterback left in the tournament, but then again nobody expected him to light the Steelers up. I think New England wins, but I would not expect this game to be a blowout. Patriots 20, Jaguars 14.

The one thing that works for the Jaguars -- they aren't afraid of the Patriots. We're in the twilight of the Patriots dynasty, but we're still in it. If the Jags can get an early lead, they have a chance. I think playing keep away from Tom Brady is the formula here. But if the Pats break out early, it's not gonna happen for the Jags. Patriots 31, Jags 20.

Minnesota Vikings (-3) vs. Philadelphia Eagles. The Vikings stunned New Orleans and the nation with pulling out a miracle victory with Stephon Diggs taking the plaudits. As great as that win was and as much as the Vikings deserve to be here, there are a couple of things that matter about last weekend besides the final play. First of all, Diggs never should have had to make that play. The reason I say that is the Vikings defense, which everyone agrees is very elite this year, blew a 17 point lead in 13 minutes of game time. In addition, the Vikings won a game that was very physical and although Sendejo and Theilen are likely to play, they might not be at full health. The second reason is that as much as the Vikings won that game, the Saints made a couple of critical errors in timeout usage and bad tackling on the last play, so while the Vikings won fair and square, one could argue that the Saints lost the game as much as the Vikings won. The Eagles are a team that has a reason to feel disrespected, as they are once again a home dog in the postseason, despite the fact that they have a very underrated defense and are playing good football when it matters. The Vikings also have played the majority of their big games at home, and 2 of their 3 losses this year have come on real grass fields like in Philadelphia. So although last week will be a great memory for the Vikings, the Eagles will win a close low scoring game, and the Vikings fans will face the reality that another season ends with a failure in the playoffs. Eagles 17, Vikings 8.

Something is happening. This Vikings team has flaws, but they stand after beating the team I thought had the best chance to stop them. If the Eagles had Carson Wentz, I would agree with you, young fella, but they don't. The matchup to watch this time -- will the Vikings offensive line hold up? The Eagles are crazy deep on the defensive line and keep switching guys in and out. If the Vikings line holds up, they win. If not, Case Keenum will be exposed. He's been on a magical run; I don't recall seeing anything like this before and I've been watching football for over 45 years. Kurt Warner is the comparison most people make, but Warner had more talent and in retrospect that became clear. Keenum is a gamer, though. And I think that might be enough tomorrow. Vikings 23, Eagles 16.

Nothing against the Vikings, but I don't drink the Kool-Aid, and don't listen to the homers at KFAN. Also, every football fan knows that the Lombardi Trophy has one home to bring it home to, and that is Green Bay, Wisconsin. Ben out!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Stop me if you've heard this one before

I keep hearing about bombshell reports, but they never seem to come out:
A review of a classified document outlining what is described as extensive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuse was made available to all House members Thursday and the revelations could lead to the removal of senior officials in the FBI and Department of Justice, several sources with knowledge of the document stated. These sources say the report is “explosive,” stating they would not be surprised if it leads to the end of Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel investigation into President Trump and his associates.

The House Intelligence Committee passed the motion along party lines Thursday to make the classified report alleging extensive ‘FISA Abuse’ related to the controversial dossier available to all House members. The report contains information regarding the dossier that alleges President Trump and members of his team colluded with the Russians in the 2016 presidential election. Some members of the House viewed the document in a secure room Thursday.
What does that mean, exactly? We don't know. One theory:
It looks like the surveillance of the Trump campaign was done by DOJ and the FBI without warrants at all. That is very illegal and should put some people in prison.

President Obama’s political operatives within the DOJ-NSD were using FISA 702(17) surveillance “about inquiries” that would deliver electronic mail and phone communication for U.S. people (Trump campaign). The NSD unit (John Carlin) was working in coordination with the FBI Counterintelligence Unit (Bill Priestap, Peter Strzok etc.) to look at this campaign activity. DOJ Attorney Lisa Page was the intermediary between the DOJ National Security Division and he FBI Counterintelligence Division.

In an effort to stop the FISA 702(17) activity NSA Director Mike Rogers initiated a full 702 compliance review. However, before the review was complete the DOJ-NSD had enough information for their Russian narrative; which was built upon FISA-702(17) that began in July ’16 per James Comey. Mike Rogers stopped the FISA702(17) process on October 26th 2016. As a result of his identifying the activity, Rogers became a risk; DNI James Clapper demanded he be fired.

The plot was the “insurance policy” Strzok mentioned. The story is becoming more clear every day.
But is it? The implication here is simple -- the Obama hands decided to spy on the Trump campaign, even though a FISA court turned them down. Yes, that would be a huge story, as it would mean we had a lawless group of people in power prior to 2017. But we kinda knew that, didn't we? And do we really think any punishment would be forthcoming for any of Obama's minions?

Democrats do whatever they want because Republicans don't have the stomach to hold them accountable. I'm told Trump is different, because he's willing to call people out. Let's see what happens.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Apple Scruffs

Our story this morning is not about the George Harrison song, which paid tribute to the folks who used to hang around Savile Row and Abbey Road in the late days of Beatlemania. We're talking about a totally different Apple Nothing scruffy about this news:
Apple Inc. said it would pay a one-time tax of $38 billion on its overseas cash holdings and ramp up spending in the U.S., as it seeks to emphasize its contributions to the American economy after years of taking criticism for outsourcing manufacturing to China.

The world’s most valuable publicly traded company laid out its plans Wednesday in a statement that was full of big-dollar figures, though it said that much of the money reflected Apple’s current pace of spending.

Apple said it would invest $30 billion in capital spending in the U.S. over five years that would create more than 20,000 jobs. The total includes a new campus, which initially will house technical support for customers, and $10 billion toward data centers across the country. It also will expand from $1 billion to $5 billion a fund it established last year for investing in advanced manufacturing in the U.S.
Would that have happened if the tax reform package that Trump championed had been killed? We don't know for sure, but it's a reasonable surmise. More from the Wall Street Journal:
Apple’s $38 billion tax commitment is the largest such sum announced in response to the major overhaul of the U.S. tax code that President Donald Trump signed into law late last year. That law included an incentive for U.S. companies to bring home offshore holdings, with companies required to pay a one-time tax of 15.5% on overseas profits held in cash and other liquid assets.
15.5% is far less than the 34% or 35% that the government would ostensibly had collected under Obama, but it's far more than nothing, which is what the government actually received when Apple and other companies kept their money overseas. There's more:
U.S. companies have long pushed for such a change to enable them to repatriate overseas cash without what they considered an excessive tax hit. Apple on Wednesday cited the tax changes as the reason for its $38 billion payment. It didn’t say how much of its $252.3 billion in overseas cash holdings it plans to bring home, though it will be the vast majority, Chief Executive Tim Cook told ABC News in an interview.

All told, Apple said it would directly contribute $350 billion to the U.S. economy over the next five years, with the bulk—about $55 billion this year, for example—coming from ongoing spending on parts and services from U.S. suppliers. That number also includes the federal tax payment and capital spending.
Back in the late 1960s, the Apple Scruffs hung out at the gates, always hopeful of getting the attention and favor of the Fab Four:

Can we get some?
We've now lifted the gates and money is coming in, from Apple and a variety of other companies. You'll see more stories of this sort in the coming weeks and months.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Light posting

We are having difficulty with our computer at home. That makes it difficult to do much blogging. I am actually using the voice to text function on my phone to create this post.

I will figure out what is going on with our computer and at that point we will be able to resume normal blogging activities. For now, I recommend this piece from Sarah Hoyt, in which she takes the
former president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, to task for his grandstanding. Key graf:
Yes, I understand Mexico is a proud country. Do tell me what it has to be proud of! Is it the fact that you have to send your citizens like beggars abroad? Is it your inability to enforce the law? Is it your governance, which is the laughing stock of the world?

You don’t like to be called a sh*thole? Very well. Stop being one. Give less consideration to your “image” in the world and more to how your country functions. Stop the corruptocracy. Enforce honesty and the rule of law. Reform your schools. Stop the rampaging of the drug lords.
Good advice. More at the link.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


An example of full disclosure:
On January 1, Seattle had several new progressive laws go into effect. Along with mandatory paid sick leave, mandates for employers to post work schedules 14 days in advance, and severe restrictions on short-term rental platforms (Airbnb, VRBO, etc.), Seattle imposed a massive new soda tax — 1.75 cents per OUNCE on sugary drinks.

In response, at least one major retailer advertised in detail the reason for the significant increase in prices.
That would be Costco, a company based in Issaquah, WA, a suburb of Seattle. And their signs couldn't be more direct:

Go buy it someplace else

Costco would like to sell the Gatorade to you, but they aren't necessarily interested in collecting the tax for Seattle. So they are suggesting to their customers that they buy such beverages in the suburbs. If you are inclined to buy your beverages in bulk, and that's how Costco rolls, it makes perfect sense to point your customers elsewhere.

Of course, the politicians don't like that:
Soda-tax supporters in Washington state are trying to pass a statewide levy to prevent shoppers from getting around it, but it failed to pass in 2017 and is unlikely to do so this year, either.
This will be worth watching.

Monday, January 15, 2018

For what it's worth

We now have a senator on record as saying that Donald Trump didn't use the term "shithole" in his discussion:
Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue said Sunday that President Donald Trump did not use the phrase "shithole countries" during a meeting with lawmakers on immigration reform last week.

"I'm telling you he did not use that word, George, and I'm telling you it's a gross misrepresentation," Perdue told moderator George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week."
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, says he did, but not directly:
According to Durbin, Trump had told a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the White House that he'd rather have more immigrants from Norway and fewer from "shithole countries" in Africa and said the U.S. didn't need anymore people from Haiti.  to describe Haiti and African nations where some immigrants to the United States come from."I have seen the comments in the press, I have not read one of them that's inaccurate," Durbin, a Democrat, told reporters in Chicago.

"In the course of (Trump's) comments, he said things that were hate-filled, vile and racist," the Illinois senator said Friday. "l use those words advisingly, I understand how powerful they are. I cannot believe that in the history of the White House and that Oval Office any president has ever spoken the words that I personally heard our president speak yesterday.
Durbin apparently gets to decide the intent of someone's remarks, and his decision is probative. Good to know. Durbin says a lot of things. In 2013, he said something else:
The No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Sen. Dick Durbin, said in a Facebook post that a House Republican leader told off President Barack Obama during a negotiation meeting, and that GOP leaders are so disrespectful it’s practically impossible to have a conversation with them.

But Wednesday afternoon, both the White House and House speaker’s office denied his claims.

“In a ‘negotiation’ meeting with the president, one GOP House Leader told the president: ‘I cannot even stand to look at you,’” Durbin wrote in a post on his Facebook page over the weekend.
Durbin also said this, in 2005:
Durbin read from an FBI report that included descriptions of one case at Gitmo in which a detainee was held in such cold temperatures that he shivered, another in which a prisoner was held in heat passing 100 degrees, one in which prisoners were left in isolation so long they fouled themselves and one where a prisoner was chained to the floor and forced to listen to loud rap music.

"If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings," Durbin said last week.

After the uproar that followed those remarks, Durbin said he was not comparing U.S. soldiers to Pol Pot (search), Nazis or Soviet guards, but was "attributing this form of interrogation to repressive regimes such as those that I note."
You can certainly believe Dick Durbin if you'd like. I wouldn't.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Vikings Fans Are Nervous Edition

Old dude, I think the Vikings fans should be nervous about Sunday. If they say they are not nervous, they probably are not being honest with themselves.

I hear a lot of bravado, but Vikings fans are always hearing the hellhounds on their trail. Over 50 years of torment will do that to a fan base. 

Yes, the fans of a 55-year old team hear the hellhounds described on an 80-year old record. The blues fall down like hail. 

I don't know where you come up with this stuff, old dude. Where you there when Robert Johnson recorded it? Maybe I should go ask Mom. I am sure that Mrs. D must be shaking her head.

She's been shaking her head for many years at my antics. But you knew that.

Mine too, Geritol Fan! But enough of the Delta blues, unless that's foreshadowing.

I don't know. I haven't seen your picks yet.

Well, stay patient. It's like you missed your daily dose of the Carter's Little Liver Pills or something. We have some other games to discuss, but you know that the Vikings fans are feeling the HYYYYYYYPPPPEE! and planning for another home playoff game down the line.

Or will the blues fall down like hail?

I'm not saying. Yet. Fair warning, I am going to bust out some spicy hot takes that even Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith would never even consider saying. It is time to watch me work!

Hotlanta Falcons (-3) vs. Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles were projected to be the Super Bowl favorites, but will have to rely on Nick Foles to get them there instead of Carson Wentz. The Eagles are certainly going to be a factor, but the adage is that the best quarterback in a playoff game generally will win. Matt Ryan is certainly one of the best quarterbacks left, and has more playoff experience. The weather in Philly might not be ideal for a dome team, but I expect Matt Ryan to continue to try and redeem himself following the meltdown in Houston last season. Falcons 27, Eagles 17.

I think it's unfortunate that Wentz cannot play. Having said that, Matt Ryan might have still beaten the Eagles. The Eagles are rested, but they are not a complete team without their dynamic leader. If they are going to win this game, it will be with defense. Do they have enough to stop the Falcons? Survey says: Falcons 28, Eagles 14.

Tennessee Titans (+13) vs. New England Cheatriots. The Patriots have had to face a lot of questions for a number 1 seed, mostly surrounding an ESPN article claiming that the Hoodie, Robert Kraft, and Tom "Deflating Baller" Brady aren't likely to be getting along these days. New England is possibly the last great dynasty in the NFL, but really should be counted as 2 distinct dynasties since they went a decade without winning a Lombardi Trophy. The Titans are a young and hungry team who impressed me in coming back last week in a very difficult place to win -- Arrowhead. Let's be honest with each other, New England has had too many distractions lately and the Titans have nothing to lose. This will certainly cause consternation, but this will be the last game the Hoodie and Brady play together. Next year will finally determine once and for all if Brady really is as great as his fanboys claim, or if he is merely an average quarterback who was carried to 5 titles by a great head coach, a clutch kicker, and organizational strength. Titans 24, Cheatriots 0.

So that organizational strength in New England? That's Brady himself. The Patriots never won a thing before he hit town. He's the real deal. And he'll be able to beat the Titans, although it should be a better game than the point spread would indicate. Patriots 28, Titans 23.

Jacksonville Jaguars (+7) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers. Everyone talks about the Steelers as being the only team to have a chance to beat the Patriots in the AFC. I never have bought it. The Steelers honestly get along based on stars showing up and nothing else. Mike Tomlin is a good coach, but is he really better than Bill Cowher? Jacksonville beat the Steelers earlier this year, and the Jaguars have a very strong defense that can shut down the high powered Steeler offense. I like Jacksonville because they are young and have nothing to lose, and the Steelers can't rely on star power to keep bailing them out in games that they should have breezed past. Jaguars 17, Steelers 3.

Who is playing quarterback for the Jaguars? That would be Blake Bortles. He doesn't have any television endorsements, but he had a near namesake who did in the 80s:

While Blake Bortles will thank you for your support, I can't support him. Steelers 24, Jags 14.

New Orleans Saints (+5) vs. Minnesota Vikings. I have been waiting to talk about this game for a while, and I have a lot to say. The Vikings are the team who suddenly every single talking head wants to praise, and it seems nobody in the NFL media is asking serious questions about the Vikings. I am the only person to point out that the Vikings feasted on a schedule coming into this season was very easy, and that the Vikings won an NFC North that was down. If we go back to October, the hit by Anthony Barr on Aaron Rodgers really changed the balance of power, and removed the last real contender for the Vikings in the NFC North. A tiny, but vocal minority of fans cheered that injury and joked about it, in addition to rubbing it in the faces of my fellow Packers fans. Another factor that  annoys me about the Vikings this year, is that nobody besides me is questioning them honestly and respectfully. Case Keenum is having the season of his life, but is he really better than Sam Bradford?

You be the judge
The Saints are no slouches, and are balanced and have a more experienced quarterback. The Vikings are a very good team, and I am not arguing otherwise. My point of view is that the Vikings have no excuses this year, since the Packers, Cowboys, and Seahawks are all sitting on their couches. If the Vikings waste this golden chance, Mike Zimmer should be canned. Ben, that sounds harsh, I hear you say. Well, that is the way it should be. Mike Zimmer has done a great coaching job, but he can come off as arrogant. Although I do think he should be Coach of the Year, he reminds me of some bad coaches I had growing up in which sometimes he takes too much of the credit and does not seem to be a humble guy. The bottom line is that the Vikings will play their hearts out, but will come short because the Saints are too balanced and experienced. In addition, the Saints are a lot better than the last time they came into Minneapolis. Saints 29, Vikings 10.

With all due respect, young fella, this isn't Shoreview Area Youth Baseball. I agree, this is the best chance the Vikings have had in 40 years. I don't think they will blow it this time. Saints give them a tough game, but. . . . Vikings 24, Saints 20.

Once again, I call it like I see it, and if you are with the Vikings and want to call me a moron or a biased Packers fan, I welcome debate in the comment section. Enjoy your football this weekend. Ben out!

Point of Other

Have you ever told an Iowa joke? I can think of a few:

Q. What's the best thing to come out of Iowa?
A. I-35.

Q. What keeps Minnesota from drifting off into Canada?
A. Iowa sucks.

I have friends on social media (and maybe I need better friends, but bear with me on this one) who disapprove of the electoral choices people in Wisconsin have been making recently. I regularly see the epithet "Wisissippi" used to describe our neighbors to the east, because apparently supporting certain types of politicians means you are allowed to denigrate everyone who lives there.

And why is the term "Wisissippi" a term of disparagement? Well, of course, because it reminds people of Mississippi, a southern state that all bien pensants know is backward and benighted, a place filled with undesirable people, a place that everyone knows is a... wait for it...


We're told that's the epithet Le Grand Orange used to describe certain countries, especially Haiti. I'm being instructed by the bien pensants that I must denounce such language at once, or else I'm just as bad as he is. And he's a racist, or something. You may have even noticed something about Trump -- he talks like someone from the Outer Boroughs.

We're all about slagging the Other. We do it all the time. People in the southern suburbs slag the northern suburbs all the time. I live in a community next door to Fridley. I've heard dozens of Fridley jokes, usually about trailer parks and whatnot. People in the suburbs slag people in the city all the time.

People write songs, too. Steely Dan has a good one:

Don't believe I'm taken in by stories I have heard 
I just read the Daily News and swear by every word 
And don't think that I'm out of line 
For speaking out for what is mine 
I'd like to see you do just fine
But look at what you wear 
And the way you cut your hair
I can see by what you carry that you come from Barrytown

Speaking of the Daily News, they have a nice cover this morning:

The latest poop
It's vicious if Trump says something Anglo-Saxon about Haitians. But it's good sport to make fun of people from Queens, or Jersey, or Fridley, or Barrytown, or any other Podunk town. Unless you're in the Podunk town, where it's de rigueur to rip on the city slickers in New York City.

Speaking of music, Tom Lehrer had another take on such things:

Oh, the poor folks, hate the rich folks
And the rich folks hate the poor folks.
All of my folks hate all of your folks.
It's American as apple pie

Or, for that matter, try this one:

We sing of freedom and ooh equality.
But we really don't care we just want money money money.
We want to drive in a big black limousine.
Get so high off ganja we can't even see.
And then we kill the white people. Ooh we gunna make them hurt.
Kill the white people. Yea. Ooh but buy my record first ooh.

I'm coming to the conclusion that the real reason people hate Donald Trump is because he's comfortable in his biases. We sing of freedom and equality, but we really don't care we just want money money money. And if you doubt that, you're probably not getting fundraising emails from the DNC.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Game On

Something is happening, but you don't know what it is. Do you, Mr. Grassley?
A spokesman for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Tuesday blasted Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-Calif.) release of a transcribed interview with the co-founder of the firm behind a controversial dossier on the Trump campaign's ties to Russia, calling the move "confounding."

In a statement, the spokesman, Taylor Foy, said that Feinstein's decision to release the transcript without first consulting Grassley compromises the Judiciary Committee's ability to conduct its investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

"Her action undermines the integrity of the committee’s oversight work and jeopardizes its ability to secure candid voluntary testimony relating to the independent recollections of future witnesses," Foy said.
What Foy says is true enough, but that's not the reason Feinstein leaked the transcript. The real reason is because the Democrats need to get out ahead of this story. It needs to be old news so it can be dismissed as such. It's increasingly clear that any collusion going on in the 2016 election cycle was all on the side of the Donks. Andrew McCarthy, writing for National Review, makes the point:
When you look at it hard, two conclusions are impossible to escape: First, at the height of the 2016 campaign, Obama intelligence officials anxiously adopted Christopher Steele’s allegations of traitorous conduct by then-candidate Donald Trump rather than first subject his “dossier” to rigorous investigation — even though Steele himself admits that his “raw,” “unverified” reports might not be true.

Second, at the same time the FBI was receiving Steele’s reports — which were based on multiple-hearsay from anonymous Russian sources, and paid for by the Clinton campaign — Obama intelligence officials were briefing congressional leaders about them, thereby ensuring that they’d be publicized just six weeks before Election Day.
There's much more at both links I've provided. There's a lot of news to be managed right now and that's why our betters are spending so much time talking about the deportment of Le Grand Orange. Scrutiny won't work well for them and scrutiny is coming.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Don't ask me what I think of you, I might not give the answer that you want me to

Victor Davis Hanson is asking questions:
For all his gossip and intrigue, [Michael] Wolff offers little insight into why such a supposedly disruptive and dysfunctional campaign team won the presidency. The victory, according to Wolff, was to the surprise of Trump and his advisors themselves! The logic of Wolff’s argument is that a pathetic Trump team that did not really wish to beat Clinton, Inc. If true, that paradox would say what exactly about Hillary’s fate? That wasting a mere year to win something you do not want is preferable to spending 17 years scheming in vain for your life’s ambition?

Wolff’s ogre purportedly sloppily eats Big Macs in bed, golfs more than Obama did, has no hair at all on the top of his head, and at 71 is supposedly functionally illiterate. OK, perhaps someone the last half-century read out loud to Trump the thousands of contracts he signed. But what we wish to know from Wolff is how did his trollish Trump figure out that half the country—the half with the more important Electoral College voice—was concerned about signature issues that either were unknown to or scorned by his far more experienced and better-funded rivals?
And more:
Why did not a well-read Marco Rubio or later Yale Law graduate Hillary Clinton focus on unfair trade and declining manufacturing, illegal immigration, unnecessary and optional overseas interventions, and the excesses of the deep administrative “swamp” state?

Who discovered these issues or knew how to develop them? Was it really the feisty Corey Lewandowski? The genius Paul Manafort? How, then, could Wolff’s idiot grasp that these concerns were the keys to flipping purple swing-states that had previously been written off as reliably Democratically patronized clinger/irredeemable/deplorable territory by far better informed and more tech-savvy campaign operatives?
Wolff doesn't care about any of that, really. We just need to know the Leader of the Free World is icky. We did know all that -- Le Grand Orange has been in the news since the early 1980s -- yet he got millions of people to vote for him. Why? Hanson is not done asking questions:
Furthermore, given that Wolff argues that the Trump inner circle seems to be little different from the Trump of “The Apprentice” reality TV fame, why, then, would half the country vote for someone who has orange skin and combed over yellow hair, and is supposedly paranoid to the degree of eating junk food out of fear of being poisoned?

What does that ribaldry say about the voters lack of confidence in the more normal Harvard or Yale Law alternative nursery of properly schooled presidents? Is Trump’s crudity tolerable given the 2016 alternative of breaking federal law by setting up a home-cooked email server, and lying about it, but doing so with the fawning admiration of bicoastal elite culture?

If, in reductionist terms, half of the country accepted the crude antithesis of refined New York-Washington establishment expertise, why exactly was that?
I've come to believe what's happening here is an exercise in negation, a Goodbye To All That to technocracy and the cult of expertise that has been building along the Potomac since Herbert Hoover, or even Woodrow Wilson. If the meritocracy has no evident merit, the whole thing collapses.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Speaking of Twitter. . .

The Leader of the Free World was trolling it up over the weekend. As always, read the Tweets from the bottom up:

If possible, play calliope music as you read these to heighten the effect
And, as usual, half the people on my social media feed were shrieking about it. He's not stable! He's dumb! It's been nothing less than astonishing to watch -- people I've known for years coming unhinged. It's not surprising Trump was successful in the real estate, since he lives rent-free in the heads of millions.

A welcome return

I don't pay a lot of attention to Twitter. I have an account but I rarely use it; it's difficult enough to find time for this feature, let alone getting into the muck there. But I am heartened to see that Sean Spicier is back:

Parody accounts on Twitter can be a lot of fun, and whoever the individual is at the helm of this one has a sensibility I fully support:

It's even more fun to watch when you are cosplaying in your vagina getup
And a well-deserved shot elsewhere:

That's just dope

As always, we need our jesters. Especially effective ones.

Saturday, January 06, 2018


It's early January, so I am playing with the format of the blog a bit. Will continue to pick at it all weekend, I would guess. Most of the changes will be cosmetic this time. More to come.

Benster and D Pick Your Games -- Playoff Time Edition

Old dude, it is playoff time. We shall see if this is finally going to be the year that the Vikings turn the page on their emotional history and make NFL history.

Hope is alive here in the Twin Cities. How will it be dashed? But that's not all, right?

And we get to bash the SEC and I can continue to drop takes that other pundits refuse to tell you because those pundits are scared and beholden to corporate narratives.

Oh, you mean the Alabama Invitational? Yeah, I figured you would have opinions about that.

I feel the HYYYYYYYYYPPPEE and it is time to watch me work!

Tennessee Titans (+8.5) vs. Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are probably the most confusing team left as we begin the playoff journey. They looked so great on opening night in Foxboro, but have looked very ordinary at times. The Titans have quietly built a contender, but going into Arrowhead in the cold is going to be a huge ask. I think the Chiefs win, and are a serious threat to beat New England and Pittsburgh on the road. Chiefs 39, Titans 8.

Someone has to be in the playoffs, I suppose, but the Titans are weak sauce. Chiefs roll. Kansas City 31, Tennessee 10.

Hotlanta Dirty Birds (+5.5) vs. Los Angeles Rams. This is the first playoff game in Los Angeles in my lifetime, and it is good to see that the Rams finally improve. I personally enjoyed watching them during The Greatest Show on Turf era, and those Rams teams were one of my first football memories outside of the Packers. This game should be a classic shootout. I always harp on the Falcons having a great running game, and the key for the Rams is can they stop that running game? I am assuming that Goff and Ryan are going to probably cancel each other out, but Todd Gurley can be the difference maker, since he takes pressure off young Goff. The winner of this game is a potential opponent that the Vikings and their fans should really fear, as they are playing good football when it matters most, and both have enough balance and talent in the coaching department to make some noise. Rams 35, Falcons 31.

I agree with everything you've said, Grasshopper. The Falcons are a flawed team but they have a lot of talent. I'm not sure Jared Goff is ready for the bright lights, either. Still, Gurley is something else.  He's the difference in maybe the best game of the weekend. Rams 33, Falcons 27.

Buffalo Bills (+8.5) vs. Jacksonville Jaguars. I have to be honest with you guys, if you had told me that these teams would playing each other in the playoffs, I would have called you crazy and laughed in your face. Both these teams are great stories for the league, but stories that the league missed out on in order to continually openly root for another team in the league, which plays next Sunday. I feel the Bills should win, because their loyal fans deserve it and it would be fun to see how far they could go. Bills 21. Jaguars 10.

Can Shady McCoy play? That's the only thing that matters. Without him, the Bills are dead. With him, they will have a chance. I think you go with the home team here, though. Jags 24, Bills 13.

Scam Newton and His Carolina Panthers (+6.5) vs. New Orleans Who Dat Nation. I have to continue to praise these playoff games, as the NFC South has been a very fun division to watch all year. Both these teams have strong offenses, and are both strong contenders in a very wide open NFC. The Saints are a lot better than they were in the early part of the season, while the Panthers have seemed to rediscover their form from a couple of years ago. I think the balance and home field advantage of the Saints gives them the edge, and could set them up for a run similar to 2009. Saints 56, Panthers 31.

If these teams played 10 times, they'd split. Very close. I like the Saints because the game is in New Orleans, but that's the only reason. Drew Brees is the best quarterback in the tournament on the NFC side. That's worth remembering, both this weekend and down the line. Saints 33, Panthers 24.

"National Championship Game/SEC Championship Part 2": Alabama Crimson Tide (-4) vs. Georgia Bulldogs, in Atlanta. Time for a Very Special Comment. Georgia won the SEC, and I have no problem with them being in the playoff this year. The Bulldogs did lose to Auburn, but avenged that loss in the conference championship game and earned a return trip to a very partisan stage in Atlanta. Alabama on the other hand lost to Auburn, and did not play for the conference title. They also played Mercer before the Iron Bowl, which is a baffling decision that defies belief. Look, I understand that Ohio State got ambushed in Iowa City, but the Buckeyes won the Big Ten title game fair and square over my beloved Badgers. My Badgers got questioned all year for playing a weak schedule, but at least we did not schedule Mercer. Alabama annoys me because they get benefits that this team did not earn. The SEC plays 8 league games, whereas the Big Ten plays 9. Alabama has not played a true road out of conference game in years, which begs the question what Nick Saban is afraid of. If I were an Alabama season ticket holder, I would wonder why I have to pay extra to go to NFL stadiums all the time instead of getting a good true home and home scheduled. I publicly challenge the Alabama fan base, the Alabama athletic department, and Nick Saban himself to explain to me why a team of Alabama's stature refuses to play a true road game out of conference that would be fun to watch and prove that they can win outside of the South. I also want to call out the media for not asking more questions about this issue, because it seems unfair that other schools play tough true road games, while Alabama never gets on the phone and schedules true road games outside the South.

I had to get that out there. I like Georgia, since the Bulldogs challenged themselves by going to South Bend and playing a team that could have beaten them. That experience is the difference, especially combined with the fact that the Bulldogs have a great running game and defense should pull it out in a partisan Georgia Crowd. Bulldogs 17, Tide Rolled 0.

Dang. I agree with you again. I may need to check my meds. I agree with you about Alabama -- they did play a home and home against Penn State, but that was while the Nittany Lions were in Sandusky hell. Other than that, the last time they played outside of their region against a good opponent was UCLA, back around 2000. But remember, Mercer means business:

Mercer always a Janitor in a Drum full of ass whoopin, so maybe Alabama had more trouble than we knew. Anyway, back to the game. Georgia is about as explosive as the septic system our guy Mercer describes, so if they get rolling in front of a home crowd, this could be the year the Bulldogs finally break through. Georgia 24, Alabama 21.

Again, if you support Alabama and want to explain why the last time you left the South to play a football game was 2011, feel free to comment and tell me why I am a hack. Enjoy your football this weekend, and Ben out!

Friday, January 05, 2018


In our moment, facts are negotiable, but the Narrative is not. And therein lies a problem for those whose narrative depends on trashing Le Grand Orange. And the smarter observers know it. Behold Alex Shepard, writing for The New Republic:
There is value in publishing a larger, contextualized account of the Trump White House. There is nothing to be gained, however, from reporting information about Trump that can’t be locked down. Wolff’s recklessness fuels the Trump administration’s critique of journalists and the media. It suggests that journalists really are out to get the president—after all, in Fire and Fury, Wolff suggests that journalists will print anything, so long as it casts Trump in a bad light. The rewards are clear: His cavalier reporting has led to TV bookings, a #1 Amazon bestseller, and insane traffic for any of the outlets that agreed to publish his work.
So we're clear, "contextualized" means conforming with the larger Narrative. But in the marketplace of ideas, narratives compete, and Shepard understands that the Trumpian narrative of "fake news" works precisely because of the elements of truth to it. Trust that the MSM are honest brokers has been steadily eroded for nearly two generations. Even the sacred and heroic work of Woodward and Bernstein now is better understood as a couple of errand boys carrying the water of a disgruntled bureaucrat, Mark Felt, who wanted a job he didn't get.

It all works in Trump's favor. So will this book, despite the surface legal maneuverings and "cease and desist" letters flying around like bullets in the funhouse:

We have produced a generation or two of post-structuralists who now run our institutions. The game has always been the same -- take the meaning out of the existing structure, then claim its vacant imprimatur. What many of us who were earnestly NeverTrump didn't understand is something that should have been obvious, and now is in retrospect; it takes a bullshitter to call out the bullshitters. In a world where, to borrow a phrase from a cynical Reagan-era song, crap is king, it's increasingly clear the guy who's been in the business longest will prevail, especially when his adversaries consistently underestimate his intelligence.

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Operating assumption

When it comes to the latest nonsense involving Trump, the easiest way to proceed is to assume everyone involved is lying. Trump, Bannon, Michael Wolff, Donald Trump Jr. -- all of them.

It's also best to assume none of it matters very much. All the calliope music is just that.

Things happening at home matter more. Especially in our little corner of the world. We're only four days into the new year and we've got plenty to consider.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Like a prayer

Michele Bachmann wants in, maybe:
In an interview last week with a religious TV program, Bachmann said that she’s praying on if she should return to Washington at a time when “the swamp is so toxic.”

“The question is: Am I being called to do this now?” she told televangelist Jim Bakker. “I don’t know. I don’t know.
Do you suppose the answer to her prayers will be no, don't run?

I'm trying not to be snide about this development. I pray every day and anyone who is serious about prayer understands that guidance on how one should proceed is a huge part of why people pray. Having said that, Jesus had the proper advice:
"But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
That's Matthew 6:6. Matthew 6:5 is equally important:
When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.
Jim Bakker's television show is every bit a street corner. My advice to Bachmann: either run, or don't. But claiming the imprimatur of prayer once you decide to run, because I'll be shocked if she doesn't, isn't useful.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Happy new year

It's 2018. This will be a hectic year, but we remain committed to keeping this feature rolling.  Light posting until mid-week.