January 20, 2018
Art, politics, angels, demons . . . and righteous dogs.

Ortho-ducks in a Row

In the ongoing battle to roll back the Enlightenment we have two stories that suggest that certain folks on either side of the world would really get on. So allow me to affect this meet-and-greet.

In Israel a group of ultra-orthodox men have given themselves the mission to help people who are different to be less different. In the case of an 8 year old girl who doesn’t belong to their sect, they have mounted a campaign against her.

The NY Times:  “An Israeli weekend television program told the story of how Naama had become terrified of walking to her elementary school here after ultra-Orthodox men spit on her, insulted her and called her a prostitute because her modest dress did not adhere exactly to their more rigorous dress code.”


“Ultra-Orthodox men and boys from the most stringent sects have hurled rocks and eggs at the police and journalists, shouting “Nazis” at the security forces and assailing female reporters with epithets like “shikse,” a derogatory Yiddish term for a non-Jewish woman or girl, and “whore.” Jews of varying degrees of orthodoxy and secularity headed to Beit Shemesh on Tuesday evening to join local residents in a protest numbering in the thousands against religious violence and fanaticism.

For many Israelis, this is not a fight over one little girl’s walk to school. It is a struggle that could shape the future character and soul of the country, against ultra-Orthodox zealots who have been increasingly encroaching on the public sphere with their strict interpretation of modesty rules, enforcing gender segregation and the exclusion of women.”

Back home we have the interesting case of Christian Chapman who likes to get himself into public schools in South Carolina to preach the virtues of Christianity. Another a fellow who is being helpful to those who are different. Again the Times:

“Such overt evangelizing would not be unusual at a prayer rally, but this was a daytime celebration in a public school gymnasium, arranged by the principal for sixth, seventh and eighth graders.

When the rapper posted a video on YouTube, announcing that “324 kids at this school have made a decision for Jesus Christ,” he drew unwelcome public and legal scrutiny to the event. It was the kind of religious advocacy that is increasingly coming to light, legal experts say, as school populations become more diverse and as the objection of non-Christians — or, in this case, the rejoicing of evangelists — is broadcast on the Internet.”

Clearly, if these folks were to meet, they would have lots of notes to compare. And right before they murdered each other, it might dawn on them that they look very much alike.


Person of the Day: Clarence Thomas

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas ethical conduct is under a cloud. Aside from this knee-jerk ultra-Right  judge being the most incurious of jurists (he hasn’t asked a question of a litigant in years!) he is also under suspicion of some ethical code violations which, if true, could be disqualifiers. He is suspected of having failed to report at least $1.6 million that his wife, Ginni, had earned since 1997; that he might have failed to report gifts from rich supporters; and that he inappropriately solicited donations for favored non-profits.

The Dept. of Justice should be investigating this now. Signing this PFAW petition will give this effort a push.


Person of the Day: Kaiser and Friends

In a great Washington Post story of the other day we see the DC salami factory in full swing.  Republicans who love to howl about the Obama Solyndra moment can see their own mirror image here.

Solyndra, a pet corporation of George Kaiser, ultra-rich Obama supporter, was high on the list for the White House solar energy spotlight.  Nevermind that there was clear evidence that company was soon to go on life-support. The lines of power in DC run from the patrons. Get a hard-hat in the picture, they said.  Also a business exec type. Steven Chu, Energy Secretary. Lights, camera, Obama.

So Kaiser and pals got their show. Then Solyndra went bust, people thrown out of work, the GOP thinks they have an issue. Okay, then, let’s see how they will like a Constitutional amendment banning private financing of campaigns. Because that’s what this story, and most of our dysfunction is all about. It’s what we mean when we talk about Washington being broken.

Person of the Day: BRAVEHEART

In the crashing, burning finale to the House Radicals’ ploy to trash the compromise on the payroll tax cut and burn the country, all for the sake of  ideologically-based hatred of Obama and all things government, the stand-out loser is John Boehner. Days ago his crazy Tea Party caucus was praising him to the skies, calling him “Braveheart”, in going against common sense and his own party!

Soon the poll numbers started to come in. Today he ends up very much like the actual Braveheart. Soon to be Artichoke-heart. As it were.

PS: Sometimes laws of gravity do apply in politics. All those who have been despairing of it ever  happening can now yell, “Freedom!”

Person of the Day: Denny Rehberg

In the space between savage, deadly mining culture and reason stands  Denny Rehberg. Challenging John Tester for the Montana US Senate seat this man is a poster boy for what’s wrong with American politics. Opposed to almost every mining regulation, advocating for a scorched-earth approach to coal production, the man is flying on wings of cash. Jobs and security are so scarce that he might get traction with voters who are too frightened to think a couple of steps ahead, in spite of great grief and tragedy still fresh in memories (like the Upper Big Branch diasater which killed 29, where regulations that Rehberg opposes were ignored).  And think about the Coal Hard Cash that he can spend on TV spin all year long. Tester’s message has got to be that coal with regs and safety is good for the miners of Montana, relatively speaking.

The recent Times piece will curl your hair, or at least make you feel gritty with flammable coal dust. But of course, the real problem is in the way campaigns get financed. And what the truth is, by the time Big Coal and friends get their dirty hands on it.

Tester’s Facebook Page Here