"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"It is impossible for me to say in my book one word about all that music has meant in my life. How then can I hope to be understood?--Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Goin' back to school

The tweet Emma Gonzales was asked to respond to.

Or out behind the woodshed:

“I think the best way to deal with this is to ignore him,” [Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma] Gonzales asserted. “I think we can all agree that the things that President Trump tweets is nothing that will have a lasting impact — unless it’s a negative lasting impact — on the people around us.”

"At this point especially, the things that he mentions when he brings up talk of the FBI, he’s trying to blame somebody,” she added. “And we can’t let him do that. So, the best thing for us to do is to ignore him and to continue fighting our fight, the fight that he refuses to acknowledge. The fact that he refused to even tweet the word ‘gun’ in any of his tweets. And yet, he insists on tweeting, and he insists on blaming the Democrats for something that he did wrong — looking back into the past instead of looking forward into the future.”

“It’s disgraceful,” Gonzales concluded.
Trump's Twitter feed from last night puts me in mind of a small child hiding under the covers, yelling at the monsters to go away.  This young lady is more mature than he is.

How disgraceful is that?

And by the way:

Democratic chances of keeping one House seat in New Jersey and winning two more have improved, according to one of the Washington-based publications tracking congressional races.

While a president's party traditionally loses congressional seats in an off-year election, President Donald Trump is having an outsized influence in a state where only 34 percent in a Gallup poll approve of his performance in office.

"President Trump is fueling the Democratic Party right now," said Nathan Gonzales, editor and publisher of Inside Elections. "He's the reason for the energy. He's the reason for the campaign donations. He's the reason some of these candidates are getting into the race."
What's going on?

In 2013, 34 Republicans ran without major-party opposition. In 2015, that number rose to 44. But in 2017, it dropped to only 12. Six Republicans who lost their seats in 2017 held seats that were not contested in 2015.

Now in Texas, which recently had a filing deadline, Democrats are contesting 14 of 15 state Senate seats and 133 of 150 state House seats. In 2016, 60 Republicans ran without a Democratic challenger (out of 150 seats up for election) in the state House while six of the 29 state Senate seats up for election were uncontested (state Senate terms are staggered). 

"Donald Trump is fueling the Democratic Party right now."  I'm getting campaign material from Democrats for the Texas primary in amounts I've never seen before.  They mean to win the primary, and they mean to win in November.  What was once a lost cause is now a mission.

Thanks, Mr. President!

Reply Hazy, Ask Again Later

Predicting the future is hard!

As if to prove what I said earlier:

The Florida Department of Children and Families was tipped off about Cruz after he cut his arms on a Snapchat video and indicated that he planned to buy a gun, according to the Sun-Sentinel. The department even visited Cruz and questioned him before eventually determining that he “was at a low risk of harming himself or others.”
The future is really hard to predict:

“We did. Time and time again. Since [the accused shooter] was in middle school,” [Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Emma Gonzalez] replied. The accused gunman, Nikolas Cruz, 19, had been reported previously to the FBI.

“Those talking about how we should have not ostracized him, you didn’t know this kid! OK?” she shouted. “We did. We know that they are claiming that there are mental health issues, and I am not a psychologist, but we need to pay attention to the fact that this is not just a mental health issue.”

“He wouldn’t have harmed that many students with a knife,” Gonzalez added.

“If the president wants to come up to me and tell me to my face that it was a terrible tragedy, and how it should never have happened, and maintain telling us how nothing is going to be done about it, I’m going to happily ask him how much money he received from the National Rifle Association,” Gonzalez said, sparking cheers and applause.

“To every politician who is taking donations from the NRA, shame on you!” she added. A chant started up among those gathered: “Shame on you!”

“Politicians who sit in their gilded House and Senate seats funded by the NRA telling us nothing could have been done to prevent this: We call BS!” Gonzalez said.

Probably another reason the POTUS is tweeting up a storm this morning.

The President Was Up Late Last Night

Because there are only three agents in the FBI (aside from Scully and Mulder) and they all work for Mueller. Right?

Yeah, it just slipped his mind. And that makes a HUGE difference in the investigation. Right?

The guy is scared shitless:

Black man in the White House!


U.S. officials blamed North Korea, saying the attack was likely a response to the planned release of a comedy film depicting a fictional plot to assassinate the country's leader, Kim Jong Un. The administration responded — publicly at least — with only additional economic sanctions, rather than a similar cyber retaliation.

"I think that others around the world watched that and determined that cyber is a cost-free intervention," Schiff said during an interview with NBC's Andrea Mitchell at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Russia's unusually brazen and "ham-handed" cyber campaign against the U.S. unfortunately coincided with a Republican candidate willing to embrace the help of an adversary, Schiff said.

"I'm certain that had John McCain or Mitt Romney been the nominee in 2016, they would have said, 'Russia, butt the hell out,'" Schiff said. "But that's not who Donald Trump was. 

"A man hears what he wants to hear, and disregards the rest."--Paul Simon

Oh, so you do know what Schiff said!

Yes, Donnie, it's still all about you.

Gee, I wonder what prompted this twitter storm?

It's Worse Than We Thought

Trump took the same picture three times, and gave a "thumbs up" each time.

And puts them all on Twitter, because he is so proud.

Worse yet, apparently all his time was spent taking these pictures.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Wait, What?

(Trump in Florida giving the thumbs up with first responders. He's so proud of this it tops his Twitter feed.)

Am I Mentally Ill Now?

Do I look mentally ill to you?

Q:  How do you know when someone is "mentally ill" and should not have access to firearms?

A:  When they have committed a mass shooting.

If the FBI had investigated Nikolas Cruz and taken action to dispossess him, legally, of his AR-15, imagine the outcry from the likes of Rick Scott and Marco Rubio.  Imagine the cries of the NRA, of every politician in Florida who has taken money from the NRA, of the President of the US, who was elected with the help of NRA money donated from Russia (you could look it up!).  Imagine the cries about jack-booted government thugs rappelling from black helicopter to take away the 2nd Amendment rights of this innocent adult (he was old enough to legally own the gun).

Because until somebody commits an act of mass homicide, how do we know they are "mentally ill" and shouldn't be in possession of a firearm?  We cannot jail people for their thoughts or their intentions.  I could announce today my intention to commit a criminal act and, if I did, the FBI or some law enforcement might come calling to talk to me, might even open a file on me.  But unless I was quite intent on engaging others in my plan (needing supplies, materiel, etc.), law enforcement couldn't infiltrate my plans and arrest me after I had assembled the illegal bomb but before I could plant it; or take me before I left the house that morning with the gun.

And they certainly couldn't begin proceedings to have me declared "mentally ill" (the preferred term of NRA apologists), and even if they did, I could rush to the school and start firing before the first court date.

So what is this crap about "mentally ill" people not getting guns which is meant to protect the 2nd Amendment from being shredded and is meant as the only way we can keep people from firearms in this country?  Because it only works in retrospect.  Nikolas Cruz was expelled from school, and reports are his mother called the police about him several times before she died.  Because he was mentally ill?  Or because he was violent?  Is violence a mental illness?  Is that how we should adjudge who gets a gun and who doesn't?  Had the FBI investigated Nikolas Cruz, could they really have done anything?  Might they have driven him to act sooner, rather than later?

"Mentally ill" is a dodge, and a cruel one.  It indicts people with illnesses that can't be cured by antibiotics, and it presumes people with true mental illnesses are necessarily violent and dangerous.  Nikolas Cruz was perfectly capable of planning his violence and carrying it out methodically, right down to his escape.  Whatever drove him, he couldn't have done it with easy access to a semi-automatic rifle, and the ammunition to load it.  His mental state is relevant to the crime he is charged with; it is not relevant to his ability to commit the crime.

We should not take the question of mental illness and firearm possession seriously.  It's not meant to be a serious issue.  It's meant to prevent us from doing anything to decrease gun violence in America by decreasing access to guns in America.

If it wasn't the weekend, he'd be reading it right now

“The president is right, in part of that response, in that that the efforts did start in 2014, but they heated up in the midst of 2016 when the Russians were instructed to help President Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton according to these indictment documents,” Phillip noted.
Or, to quote directly from the indictment:

By early to mid-2016, Defendants’ operations included supporting the presidential campaign of then-candidate Donald J. Trump (“Trump campaign”) and disparaging Hillary Clinton.

Doesn't really matter when they started; it's what they did.

But it's still a hoax and a witch hunt, right?  These 13 indictments are fake news, right?  Maybe if our President could read.  Then again, 37 pages is beyond his attention span.  (Otherwise he might note the indictment says the actions begun in 2014 continued to the present.  Not really important when they started, it's when they stopped that matters.  And they haven't.  Now, about those sanctions on Russia you refuse to impose.....)

Morning Prayer

Somebody asked Antony, "What shall I do in order to please God?" He replied, "Do what I tell you, which is this: wherever you go, keep God in mind, whatever you do, follow the example of holy Scripture; wherever you are, stay there and do not move away in a hurry. If you keep to these guidelines, you will be saved."
I will kindle my fire this morning
In presence of holy angels of heaven,
In presence of Ariel of the loveliest form,
In presence of Uriel of the myriad charms,
Without malice, without jealousy, without envy,
Without fear, without terror of any one under the sun,
But the Holy Son of God to shield me.

Without malice, without jealousy, without envy,
Without fear, without terror of any one under the sun,
But the Holy Son of God to shield me.

God, kindle Thou in my heart within
A flame of love to my neighbor,
To my foe, to my friend, to my kindred all,
To the brave, to the knave, to the thrall,
O Son of the loveliest Mary,
From the lowliest thing that liveth
To the Name that is highest of all.

O Son of the loveliest Mary,
From the lowliest thing that liveth
To the Name that is highest of all.

--from Carmina Gadelica

Friday, February 16, 2018

Somebody needs a second helping of "thoughts and prayers"

Noticing flags around me flying at half-mast.  Given the number of shootings this year, they should have been flown at half-mast an average of twice a week every week since the first week of the year.

We are at war.   With the crazies who want to shoot people, and with the NRA and its minions and bought-and-paid for politicians.( No, not the 2nd amendment. Heller applied that to handguns for self-defense. It is far less protective of rifles. The problem is political, not Constitutional.)  Just watched "The Godfather" again, with all it's discussion of how many politicians Don Corleone has in his "pocket."  Honestly, how is the NRA any different, or any less inimical to the interests of society at large?

You know, if Florida just protected schools better

Thoughts and prayers, y'all!

this kind of thing wouldn't happen:

While Florida has a three-day waiting period for handgun purchases, anyone without a felony record, domestic abuse conviction or a handful of other exceptions can walk into a gun store, wait a few minutes to clear a background check, and walk out with an AR-15-style rifle, magazines and ammunition.

Under federal law, you also must be 21 to buy a handgun from a firearms dealer. But 18-year-olds can buy semiautomatic rifles.

Precisely how Mr. Cruz came to possess the gun is not clear. But the authorities said the AR-15 rifle that Mr. Cruz used in the attack was purchased legally. “No laws were violated in the procurement of this weapon,” said Peter J. Forcelli, the special agent in charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Miami.

I'm sure it's easier to buy an AR-15 than a handgun because we have such an easy time defining "handgun" (the name says it all, right?) while defining "assault rifle" is an epistemological puzzle which would baffle the greatest minds of history.

“These guns are much more deadly than traditional bolt-action rifles or traditional shotguns, but they are regulated the same way” in most of the country, said Adam Skaggs, chief counsel of the Giffords center.

See?  Besides, you know, there's really nothing that can be done:

“I do think that in some circles, it isn’t fair or right to create this impression that somehow this attack happened yesterday because there is some law out there that we could have passed to prevent it,” [Sen. Marco] Rubio [Pangloss, R-FL]  said toward the end of a lengthy speech in which he wavered between dismissing gun control efforts and advising against saying “there is nothing we can do.”

“If there was such a law that could have prevented yesterday, I think a lot of people would have supported it,” he said.

How can you argue with reasoning like that?  If God hadn't meant us to die from guns, he'd have made us bulletproof, amirite?

“You read in the newspaper that they used a certain kind of gun and therefore let’s make it harder to get those kinds of guns,” Rubio said earlier in his remarks, referring to the AR-15 that police said Nikolas Cruz used Wednesday, and which is responsible for many of the deadliest shooting incidents in modern American history.

“I don’t have some sort of de facto religious objection to that, or some ideological commitment to that per se,” Rubio said. “There’s all kinds of guns that are outlawed and weaponry that’s outlawed and/or special category.”

“The problem is we did that once, and it didn’t work for a lot of reasons,” he continued. “One of them is there is already millions of these on the street. And those things, they last 100 years. And so you could pass a law that makes it hard to get this kind of gun in a new condition, but you’re going to struggle to keep it out of the hands of someone who’s decided that’s what they want to use, because there are so many of them out there already that would be grandfathered in.”

Or we could tax the hell outta ammunition.  No, wait, that would work!

Rubio listed the ways gun restrictions would fail.

“You can do a background check,” he said. “The truth is in almost all these cases I cited, the individual either erroneously passed a background check or would have passed it or did.”

“Even if they couldn’t pass the background check, then they could buy them the way MS-13 does, and other gangs and other street elements do, from the black market.”

“Again, not because we shouldn’t have a background check. I’m just trying to be clear and honest here,” he said. “If someone has decided I’m going to commit this crime, they will find a way to get the gun to do it.”

“That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a law that makes it harder. It just means understand, to be honest, it isn’t going to stop this from happening. You could still pass the law, per se, but you’re still going to have these horrible attacks.”

It's like force majeure, ya know?  Sure, every other country in the civilized world has managed to prevent this kind of thing, but this is America!

We just have to die with it.  I mean, it's not like our kids can live with it.

I guess prayers are pretty useless then, huh?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Kids say the darnedest things.....

Thoughts and prayers are "getting something done," amirite? 

Kids just don't get adult issues like NRA contributions and 2nd Amendment piety and the worship of guns uber alles. 

Maybe if you live long enough to grow up you'll understand.  In the meantime, thoughts and prayers!  Oh, and state funded funerals.  We can't protect you, but we can bury you.

Is this a great country, or what?

Sorry, my mental inbox is full this morning....

Are ya scared yet, pilgrim?

Ted Cruz wants you to be scared, and to trust that John Wayne will come along:

“We have seen that evil can occur whether in Parkland or in a church in Texas or in schools across the country,” he insisted. “I mean, there are murderers. Evil is sadly always present and we need to do what we can to act to prevent it. Sometimes you see brave heroes who are able to step forward. Sometimes you have heroes that are armed and can engage the killer and stop them and save people’s lives.”

Other lawmakers want you to accept their "thoughts and prayers" as a form of action; mostly because they want to go on accepting NRA campaign donations.

Or we should make our schools into "secure zones," just like we do our airports.  And who is going to pay for the public school equivalent of TSA?  By the way, the number of public schools (below college level) in the country?  Approximately 98,000.  The number of airports where TSA is working in the country?  200.  Yeah, we can secure our schools the way we secure our airports; with the largest government bureaucracy in American history, right?  Or we can just leave it up to the states because 2nd Amendment roolz!

So the responses are either thoughts and prayers, or terrorism ("Be afraid!  Evil people are out there!  Boogey-boogey!").  The question is, why do we keep electing this clowns?  The time may come when we don't have to:

“They’ve poll tested that: ‘Now is not the time’,” [Florida state Rep. Jared Moskowitz (D)] explained.

Look out, he's a Democrat, he's gonna go political!

“There’s never a time. But we should just be honest. Let’s just look the American people in the face, let’s go look the families in the face that I sat there for six hours until they found out their kid wasn’t missing, their kid lying dead in the school — let’s just look them in the face and let’s be honest and let’s tell them, we’re going to do nothing.”

“We’re going to talk, we’re going to spout off all sorts of different talking points from both sides of the aisle, but we’re going to do nothing,” Moskowitz continued. “Because we can’t look at this just as parents, we have to look at this through a political lens for some reason, Democrats or Republicans.”

The lawmaker observed that “we’ve created this.”

“We can pray to God [but] God didn’t do this,” he remarked. “This is a manmade issue. It’s only going to be solved by man. And we’re not going to solve it because the system is rigged. Nowadays there’s no real general elections anymore. It’s primaries.”

Moskowitz lamented that Florida Republicans would block any legislation he put forward to address the problem.

“They won’t agree to anything,” he said. “How about just background checks? How about the fact if on your Facebook you’re telling everybody you’re a Nazi and you’re going to kill a thousand people, how about we take that into account when you want to go buy an AR-15? But we don’t.”

“We’ve seen this show before, we know how this movie is going to end,” Moskowitz said. “They want to decrease the background checks. I will fight against that. I will file 100 amendments and I will hold the floor hostage for 15 hours.”

And it won't matter unless we vote the clowns out.  He's right about the primaries, which is why I'll be voting in the GOP primary this year (open primaries, people!).  There's a candidate for Lt. Gov. who is urging people to vote for him in the primary so Dan Patrick (R. Looney-Land) can't keep the office.  It may be the only cure, since so few will join me in voting for Democrats in November.

And if they do, I win that way, too.  Hooray for open primaries!

We gotta do something about this, people.

"When are we going to see this as a national emergency?"

Geraldo Rivera upsets Sean Hannity's panel by not being the biggest idiot on the show:

“They should be at least as secure as airports,” Rivera said of America’s schools. 

Because we need to redesign all public schools so they are buildings with one entrance and one exit, and everyone enters and leaves through a metal detector, and armed guards make you take off your shoes and empty your pockets and x-ray your backpacks and that will only mean you have to get to school two hours before classes start, just like you do at the airport, and for special days when Mom & Dad are coming, they need to show up 2 hours before the event, and how could this possibly be a problem?*  And who is going to pay for that, and how much more is it going to cost, and how likely are other matters of education (textbooks, classroom supplies, teachers, teacher aides) to be cut?  Who cares?!  We sure as hell can't have gun control!

But moments later, he was going in on the “psycho punk loser with a machine gun, an AR-15, slaughtering these innocents” in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday.

Hannity’s viewers were quick to point out on Twitter that an AR-15 is not technically a “machine gun,” but Rivera was just getting started. “It makes me sick,” he said. “How’d he get the gun? How’d he get the thousand-dollar gun? How’d he get all these magazines? Where are his parents? Where are his parents? Where was his family? Where were his friends, for goodness’ sake?”

This guy was reported to the FBI.   And his adopted parents were dead.  His adopted father had died earlier, his mother just recently.  That's where they were, asshole.  The school knew he was dangerous, that's why they suspended him.  How'd he get the gun?  He bought it?  You know, at gun stores, where they get to sell such things!  Or maybe from a private owners, because freedumb and private property and freeeeedddduuuuuummmmmmbbbbb!  Where'd he get the money?  Does it matter?

“It is just absolutely outrageous,” he continued. “Twenty-five of these school massacres since Columbine in 1999? When are we going to see that this is a national emergency?!”

Finally, a sensible question.

Then came a question that seemed to be aimed directly at President Donald Trump, who very well may have watching Hannity’s show instead of addressing the nation. “You want to spend $25 billion on a wall?” Rivera asked. “What about spending $25 billion on making our schools secure from these savages, who all they want to do is inflict blood and mayhem?”

Trump is on that.  He wants to hire thought police.  Except everybody already knew this guy was dangerous, the FBI had already investigated him for his expressed desire to be a "professional school shooter."  Maybe he shouldn't have had access to a gun, huh?  You know, like in Australia?  Or the rest of the civilized world?

And by the way, Sean, Shep Smith says "Fuck you":
Instead of acknowledging Rivera’s argument, Hannity said we need to “get away from” the “same, predictable, frankly insane, and intellectually lightweight” debates about guns and get back to the important issue plaguing America: school security.

This is where I came in.....

*I know there are school buildings like this in the East (not necessarily with the security apparatus, but with a single building design).  Most of the schools I attended, and that my daughter attended, were open campuses with many buildings.  Tearing those down and rebuilding "secure" buildings would be a massively expensive endeavor, aside from the staff required to enforce that security at every campus in a school system.

"The Love of Money is the Root of All Evil"

As of Valentines Day 2018, there have been 18 school shootings in America in 2018, an average of one every 60 hours.

“It’s a terrible tragedy, and sadly we’ve been here before,” [Florida Attorney General Pam] Bondi noted.

“I have five advocates headed in right now, I will have at least ten more tomorrow, driving in from all over the state,” she promised.

“We will pay for the funeral expenses of these poor victims and do everything we can to help their families,” Bondi continued.

“The state of Florida, we will pay for counseling for the surviving victims,” she continued. “We will pay for students who need counseling.”

And Sen. Ted Cruz this morning:

“We have seen that evil can occur whether in Parkland or in a church in Texas or in schools across the country,” he insisted. “I mean, there are murderers. Evil is sadly always present and we need to do what we can to act to prevent it. Sometimes you see brave heroes who are able to step forward. Sometimes you have heroes that are armed and can engage the killer and stop them and save people’s lives.”

Because government sure as hell can't do anything about it.  And why is that?  Politics, of course!

Fox & Friends host Ainsley Earhardt noted that “Democrats are calling for gun control, they’re talking about not allowing you to buy the AR-15 anymore.”

“We have seen multiple shootings recently, mass shootings using this weapon,” she said. “You’re a parent, you have young girls who are going to grow up and go to school as well.”

“The reaction of Democrats to any tragedy is to try to politicize it,” Cruz complained. “They immediately start calling that we’ve got to take away the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens. That’s not the right answer.”

Cruz, who reportedly has taken more money from pro-gun groups than any member of Congress, said that victims of mass shootings have told him that “gun control is not the answer here.”

Of course it isn't; how could it be?  ("Australia, Australia, Australia, we love you!  Amen!")

“The answer is to focus on criminals, to focus on violent criminals,” he remarked. “This individual appears to have significant issues with mental illness. I think we will certainly be asking were there signs of mental illness, could we have stepped in and prevented this before hand?”

Clearly the solution is thought control!  Lock up people we think don't think good!

Cruz also asserted that President Barack Obama shared the blame for a mass shooting that killed 26 at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.

“Had the Obama administration simply followed federal law and enforced the law, existing gun laws made it illegal for the Sutherland Springs shooter to buy a gun,” he opined. “But the Obama administration failed to report his criminal conviction so he wasn’t in the background check system.”

Well, sure....

Can We Start With the POTUS?

I don't know what's weirder:  the sentiment expressed in this tweet, or the fact it has a "parent" tweet about DACA.  Except maybe Trump wanted to say that mentally disturbed students are immigrants, too.

The argument here, of course, is that we can't control guns, so we need thought control for people.  You can't be restricted for owning guns, you can be restricted for what you think.  Seems reasonable, right?

And does this apply to Rob Porter?

After Ash Wednesday 2018

Examination at the Womb-Door

Who owns those scrawny little feet?    Death.
Who owns this bristly scorched-looking face?    Death.
Who owns these still-working lungs?    Death.
Who owns this utility coat of muscles?    Death.
Who owns these unspeakable guts?    Death.
Who owns these questionable brains?    Death.
All this messy blood?    Death.
These minimum-efficiency eyes?    Death.
This wicked little tongue?    Death.
This occasional wakefulness?    Death.

Given, stolen, or held pending trial?

Who owns the whole rainy, stony earth?    Death.
Who owns all of space?    Death.

Who is stronger than hope?    Death.
Who is stronger than the will?    Death.
Stronger than love?    Death.
Stronger than life?    Death.

But who is stronger than Death?
                          Me, evidently.
Pass, Crow.

--Ted Hughes

I posted this before with Eliot's "Marina," and reading that again I'm again convinced Hughes had that poem in mind when he wrote this one.  Not thematically, but certainly as an inspiration for how to use the language to his own purpose.

Besides, it's a worthy meditation for Lent.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, Florida

Only the best people!

Is it me, or does he sound like the kid being forced to apologize by his parents, when he's not sorry at all for what he did?

I laughed with everyone else at the idea Michael Cohen paid hush money to Stormy Daniels as a favor to Donald Trump, but Josh Marshall convinced me that these are circles I don't run in, and such a thing might well have been done.

In making his argument JMM makes a few salient points about Cohen's legal acumen:

Cohen has a nominal law degree. But I’ve seen very little evidence he ever practiced law in any real sense, either for Trump or at any point in his career. What Cohen was was a businessman, in a number of businesses favored by the Russian/Ukrainian emigre community and where large sums of cash can be moved, often over borders, into cash-intensive businesses: taxis, casino boats, and real estate.

Well, then you'd think he'd be better at contracts, huh?

Adult-film star Stormy Daniels claims that she is now able to publicly speak about her experience with Donald Trump. Because the terms surrounding a $130,000 payment made to her by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen have become public, thereby nullifying her non-disclosure agreement, Daniels’ lawyer said, the porn actress is now free to tell her story. Cohen admitted on Tuesday to paying the money to Daniels out of his own pocket, effectively confirming that the Trump team did, indeed, pay the porn actress hush money to keep their affair quiet before the 2016 election.

As we used to say on the playground:  "Smooth move, Ex-Lax."  I hope Cohen's professional insurance is paid up, because if Ms. Daniel's lawyers are right, this is textbook malpractice.

Memento Mori: A Valentine for Ash Wednesday 2018

Our culturally conflicted way of looking at Lent — plenty of Christians don’t observe it, but plenty of secular people do — says a lot about how we conceive of sacrifice and self-denial. Its spiritual aspects (we should give up sweets to focus on God) are more difficult to contend with than its practical aspects (we should give up sweets to lose weight).

Lent, fundamentally, is about facing the hardest elements of human existence — suffering, mortality, death. That the season has turned into giving up Twitter shows that we haven’t gotten good at talking about them yet.
First, to quibble with the article (which is actually quite valuable, on its own terms), Lent is not about preparing for death, or coming to terms with death's inevitability.  But that's an interesting take on it, because it's medieval origins lie in memento mori, in the line from Genesis used by most priests and pastors to inscribe ashes on your forehead (and I wish, again, I had a community of worship where I could receive those this morning).   It's less about death's inevitability, than about death's reality.  The Christian liturgical calendar is meant to recapitulate not just the life of Christ (birth; death; resurrection; earthly teachings sustained through the church), but to recall the human to the ways of God (Advent is preparation for the birth, Christmas/Epiphany the celebration of that birth (which used to last until Ash Wednesday, hence Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday), preparation for the death and resurrection of Christ, celebration of the resurrection which lasts until Pentecost Sunday, and the longest part of the calendar, the season of Pentecost, which lasts until the First Sunday of Advent starts the calendar over again.).  Church has moved from the center of life, both communal and personal, to the fringes of life (TV is more central to us than ever, but TV church is still a fringe feature of modern life), just as we have moved death from the churchyard to the "memorial gardens," a place fewer people frequent than church.

I pastored a church with a cemetery on the grounds, one that dated back over 150 years when I was there.  Some years before I arrived the members of the church had taken it upon themselves to clear the grounds of the cemetery, but back the brush and remove some of the trees that had sprung up from their neglect.  Part of that neglect was because the cemetery was virtually closed; only a few members had plots there awaiting their burial.  Part of the neglect was because it was a cemetery.  We don't go to cemeteries unless we have to.  Then again, why should we?  They are sad monuments to the ephemeral nature of our existence.  As the poet said, before us lie deserts of vast eternity, and the grave is a very, very private place.  If the children of the deceased are themselves deceased, the grandchildren are not likely to tend the graves, or decorate them, or even live near them.  Granite monuments to a family name are, within a very few years, simply words carved into stone that no one reads anymore, that no one can interpret because who knows who they are?

Remember, human, that you are dust.

It's simply a good thing to remember, a reminder of our mortality, a measure of our humility.  Thomas Merton pointed out there is no "sacrament of death" in Christianity, and Lent (and especially Ash Wednesday, of which he was writing) are not meant to create one sotto voce.  But we are dust, and to dust we will return, and all our convictions of our immortality which supposedly fire our religious beliefs (according to the harshest critics) are undone by that simple truth, and once a year we are called upon to remember it.

The symbolism of the ashes is a profound one.  The palm fronds of the triumphal entry into Jerusalem from the year before, become the ashes which mark our faces with the sign of death and humiliation.  Scholars have pointed out we would understand Roman crucifixion today as involving sexual abuse because the victims were hung naked high above the crowds that might have gathered to watch the slow dying.  Consider that when you read the Johannine gospel where Jesus talks to his mother from the cross, or just hangs before the jeering crowds depicted in the synoptics.   If it makes our Lent a little more uncomfortable, our Good Friday a little darker at noon, then perhaps it should.  Auden reminds us we are human, carnal, that what goes into us comes out of us.  The dead loose their bowels, empty their bladders, release all that is inside that can find an easy exit.  The crucified die naked, drowning in their own body fluids as their lungs fill up with liquid that can't be cleared.  We are dust, but we are solids, too; and liquids; and waste; and flesh.

Jesus denied the flesh for 40 days; that's the Biblical narrative that gives Lent it's time frame.  The 40 days reflects the Biblical narrative of the 40 years the slaves who escaped Egypt spent in the wilderness, because they gave the flesh its due and built a golden calf as a symbol of what they worshipped (gold and animals, wealth and living things they could control) while Moses was on the mountaintop receiving the law from the God of Abraham.  They failed the test of trust in God who provided manna when there was no food; Jesus revisited that test, and passed.  And so for Lent, the tradition is to fast, as Jesus did.  It is our preparation for the death that Jesus would undergo.  Does it bring us closer to God?  Perhaps; but not mechanically.  Done right, rather like prayer, it doesn't affect God or perhaps even us, so much as it forces us to focus more on God and the way of life God offers.  Which is only partly a religious ideal, but it also a wisdom ideal.  Here I should cite the words of the atheist Alain de Botton, with whom I agree more than I disagree on some matters (rather like Tara Isabella Burton, I find something to agree with even as I find areas of disagreement):

Religions are not just a set of claims about the supernatural; they are also machines for living. They aim to guide you from birth to death and to teach you a whole range of things: to create a community, to create codes of behavior, to generate aesthetic experiences. And all of this seems to me incredibly important and, frankly, much more interesting than the question of whether Jesus was or wasn’t the son of God.

The underlying ambition of religions is impressive to me. They are trying to locate the tenets of a good life, of a wise life, of a kind life. They are interrogating the greatest themes, and so I'm attracted to the aspects of religion that know that human life is quite difficult and that we are going to need a lot of assistance, a lot of guidance. And what religious life is trying to do is to provide us with tools for how to keep being the best version of ourselves.
I do not lightly set aside the "claims of the supernatural," so much as I would, in another discussion, challenge the idea of "supernatural" (Is love real?  Or supernatural?).  And I would say the aims of Judaism and Christianity (with which alone Botton seems to be familiar, as are most atheists, which tells you something about atheism) go beyond "codes of behavior" and "aesthetic experiences."  But he's on the right path, if heading for the wrong goal.  I do agree that the purpose of the law and the prophets, of the gospels and the epistles, is "to locate the tenets of a good life, of a wise life, of a kind life."  The vision of the holy mountain in Isaiah is a place the world is drawn to because it works; not because the world has all converted to the religion of the children of Abraham (who were not "Jews" at the time of Isaiah's vision).  And becoming "the best version of ourselves"?; not really.  As Burton quotes in her article, Lent is not about becoming the best version of yourself.  But there we run into the problem of how we understand humanity today, versus how humanity was widely understood (in the West) before the 19th century.

It is in the earlier understanding of what it is to be human that Lent has its roots.  We don't reconnect to those roots just by meditating on mortality; we don't accomplish anything worth accomplishing by seeking a simple process that will carry us to our goal.  Fasting doesn't make us better Christians; or improve our piety; or change our souls.  But it is a good practice, a good discipline.  It can make the resurrection feel more like....well, a resurrection.

A strict observance of Lent made possible a pleasure which is unknown to us now, that of "un-Lenting" at breakfast on Easter Day. If we look into the matter closely, we find that the basic elements of our pleasures are difficulty, privation, and the desire for enjoyment. All these came together in the act of breaking abstinence, and I have seen two of my great-uncles, both serious, sober men, half swoon with joy when they saw the first slice cut from a ham, or a pate disembowelled, on Easter Day. Now, degenerate race that we are, we could never stand up to such powerful sensations!

--Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Should I point out here Brillat-Savarin was writing in the late 18th century?  Degenerate race that we are.....

The real power of Lent is in the discipline we can impose on ourselves, if we choose to.  Here is the deep secret of Lent, of faith, of religious observance:  it is up to us.  We choose to do it, we choose to make ourselves open to the changes it offers; or we don't.  God is not in the fast, God is not in the praying, God is not in the ritual, anymore than God was in the whirlwind or the earthquake or the fire that passed by Elijah.  But God is present nonetheless (call it "supernatural" if you must).

I started this post the way I start most of them, with a reaction to something someone else had written.  I end it reacting to myself, to what I have written.  Well, I would, but I would rather end it with the words of Isaiah; not as a rebuke to anyone, or even a challenge to your Lenten discipline (or, more like mine perhaps, lack thereof); but also to remind us of what matters in Lent, and all the year around:

Isaiah 58:1-12

58:1 Shout out, do not hold back! Lift up your voice like a trumpet! Announce to my people their rebellion, to the house of Jacob their sins.

58:2 Yet day after day they seek me and delight to know my ways, as if they were a nation that practiced righteousness and did not forsake the ordinance of their God; they ask of me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God.

58:3 "Why do we fast, but you do not see? Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?" Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day, and oppress all your workers.

58:4 Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to strike with a wicked fist. Such fasting as you do today will not make your voice heard on high.

58:5 Is such the fast that I choose, a day to humble oneself? Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush, and to lie in sackcloth and ashes? Will you call this a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD?

58:6 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?

58:7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

58:8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.

58:9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am. If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil,

58:10 if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.

58:11 The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.

58:12 Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.

Everything New is Old Again

I grew up with one of these in the family home (not exactly, of course, but close enough).  We replaced it with a "quadrophonic" stereo (yes, four speakers) which wasn't the improvement it was touted to be, but at least the speakers were positionable in the room, rather than stuck next to the record player.  (if you don't remember these you can go here to see the pictures.  The technology really isn't that different 50+ years later).  Not that the amplifier was strong enough in that old cabinet to make the needle bounce (nor was I allowed to try to make that happen), but it was an issue at the time.  That and you really couldn't get the separation you were going for by playing stereo (rather than monoraul) records.

So now we're back there again.  This just confirms for me that standards in musical reproduction have collapsed with the advent of digital recording technology.  Yes, I know this includes a record player, which is supposed to be better than CD's or MP3's, but as my old Rolling Stone guide to stereo systems put it, "The only thing you hear is the speakers."  And they aren't best displayed by being confined to a cabinet like this.

Actually I'm still a believer in the old Klipschorns that you can't even get from Klipsch anymore, but that's from reputation, not from actually hearing them.   Purity of reproduction of sound is essential to any playback system.   Rock music (pop, rap, whatever) sounds pretty much the same live as in your living room (or even on your earbuds!) because it comes from a speaker anyway.  The human voice (singers, operatic or otherwise) and woodwind/string/brass/percussive instruments are still best heard in performance.  The full experience of an orchestra, or even a string quartet, or just a singer with a guitar, can't be reproduced in any medium except live to human hears.  IMHO, anyway.

I grew up with stereo systems in cabinets, and record players that stacked records.  I also grew up reading Hesse's description of music on radio v. live performance:

It makes its unappetizing tone-slime of the the most magical orchestral music.  Everywhere it obtrudes its mechanism, its activity, its dreary exigencies and vanity between the ideal and the real, between orchestra and ear.

So iPods and earbuds, convenient as they were/are (I don't know what everyone's listening on now) obtruded their mechanism (although it started with Sony back before any music was digital except Wendy Carlo's recordings) because they emphasized convenience over quality.  And yes, earbuds have given way to Beats headphones, but those don't hold a candle to Koss and Sennheiser headsets of yore.

Again:  IMHO.  Because I am Harry the Steppenwolf in this reading, complaining about what radio has done to my beloved Mozart.  I'm old and crotchety and no expert on anything, I freely admit.  But it's sad that everything old is new again when I expected sound reproduction technology to improve by now, not to regress.  Stereos as furniture because nobody has bookshelves in an age of Kindles?  Stereos as furniture because floor speakers take up floor space that should be empty or at least clear enough for those silly barn doors to slide open and take up wall space (and the space out from the wall where they must hang/slide)?  I guess.

Everything old is new again; except people, unfortunately.

Ash Wednesday 2018

MEMENTO, homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.
Remember, human, that you are dust, and to dust you will return
--Genesis 3:19


Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the aged eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?

Because I do not hope to know again
The infirm glory of the positive hour
Because I do not think
Because I know I shall not know
The one veritable transitory power
Because I cannot drink
There, where trees flower, and springs flow, for there is nothing again

Because I know that time is always time
And place is always and only place
And what is actual is actual only for one time
And only for one place
I rejoice that things are as they are and
I renounce the blessed face
And renounce the voice
Because I cannot hope to turn again

Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And I pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do hot hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us

Because these wings are no longer wings to fly
But merely vans to beat the air
The air which is now thoroughly small and dry
Smaller and dryer than the will
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still.

Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.


Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

--T.S. Eliot, "Ash Wednesday," The Complete Poems and Plays 1909-1950 (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1971), pp. 60-61, 67)

HEAR my prayer, O Lord;
let my cry come to you.
Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress.
Incline your ear to me;
answer me speedily in the day when I call.
My days pass away like smoke,
and my bones burn like a furnace.
My heart is stricken and withered like grass;
I am too wasted to eat my bread.
Because of my loud groaning
my bones cling to my skin.
I am like an owl of the wilderness,
like a little owl of the waste places.
I lie awake;
I am like a lonely bird on the housetop.
All day long my enemies taunt me;
those who deride me use my name for a curse.
For I eat ashes like bread,
and mingle tears with my drink,
because of your indignation and anger;
for you have lifted me up and thrown me aside.
My days are like an evening shadow;
I wither away like grass.
But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever;
your name endures to all generations.
You will rise up and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to favor it;
the appointed time has come.
For your servants hold its stones dear,
and have pity on its dust.

--Psalm 102:1-14

I said in my heart with regard to human beings that God is testing them to show that they are but animals. For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again.

--Ecclesiastes 3:18-20

ASHES, ashes, all fall down. How could I have forgotten? Didn't I see the heavens wiped shut just yesterday, on the road walking? Didn't I fall from the dark of the stars to these senselit and noisome days? The great ridged granite millstone of time is illusion, for only the good is real; the great ridged granite millstone of space is illusion, for God is spirit and worlds his flimsiest dreams: but the illusions are almost perfect, are apparently perfect for generations on end, and the pain is also, and undeniably, real. The pain within the mill-stones' pitiless turning is real, for our love for each other-for the world and all the products of extension-is real, vaulting, insofar as it is love, beyond the plane of the stones' sickening churn and arcing to the realm of spirit bare. And you can get caught holding one end of a love, when your father drops, and your mother; when a land is lost, or a time, and your friend blotted out, gone, your brother's body spoiled, and cold, your infant dead, and you dying: you reel out love's long line alone, stripped like a live wire loosing its sparks to a cloud, like a live wire loosed in space to longing and grief everlasting.

--Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm, HarperCollins, 1977.

Historic Christianity rose into a high and strange coup de théatre of morality -- things that are to virtue what the crimes of Nero are to vice. The spirits of indignation and of charity took terrible and attractive forms, ranging from that monkish fierceness that scourged like a dog the first and greatest of the Plantagenets, to the sublime pity of St. Catherine, who, in the official shambles, kissed the bloody head of the criminal. Poetry could be acted as well as composed. This heroic and monumental manner in ethics has entirely vanished with supernatural religion. They, being humble, could parade themselves: but we are too proud to be prominent. Our ethical teachers write reasonably for prison reform; but we are not likely to see Mr. Cadbury, or any eminent philanthropist, go into Reading Gaol and embrace the strangled corpse before it is cast into the quicklime. Our ethical teachers write mildly against the power of millionaires; but we are not likely to see Mr. Rockefeller, or any modern tyrant, publicly whipped in Westminster Abbey.

--G.K. Chesterton

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

What's that old adage about picking a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel?

“If you haven’t seen the 1944 movie Gaslight or kept up with your Phycology Today subscription, gaslighting is when someone tries to make you question your reality and sanity,” [Anderson] Cooper defined. “They do this by lying, they do this by speaking in contradictions and by denying the reality that you know to be true.”

“That is how the White House is gaslighting the American people daily in covering-up how it handled the case of Rob Porter,” the host observed.

Cooper then reviewed the time line of mistruths from the White House since the scandal broke last week.

“We asked the White House for anyone to come and talk about any of this tonight and they said no,” Cooper reported.

“You don’t have a White House official, but you do have me,” replied CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta.
I can honestly say I've never seen the press do this to a President before, and I remember Watergate pretty darned well.   MAD Magazine even knew what was up then:

But WaPo suspended "Doonesbury" because Mark Slackmeyer pronounced Nixon "Guilty!  Guilty!  Guilty!"  It was not a time to call the President a liar, even though he clearly was, and although even MAD Magazine knew he was a crook.  Still, a patch of ice doth not a winter make, so:

“We are now one full week into the domestic abuse scandal involving now-former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, and yet the American people still do not know who knew what, and when, and why,” Tapper began during his monologue on “The Lead.”
“Just since yesterday we’ve learned more that suggests the White House has not told the American people the full truth,” Tapper continued. “From the White House podium yesterday, Sarah [Huckabee] Sanders painted a rosy picture of a White House motivated by a clear sense of right and wrong, seeking to remove—with clarity and purpose—someone who had been accused of abhorrent behavior.”

“What that narrative does not acknowledge is that the initial response from the White House was to prop up Porter and stand by Porter,” the CNN host added,
Tapper then turned to an off-the-record interview between Porter and four top White House reporters, which occurred after “that black eye photograph of Porter’s first wife was published.”

“Whatever the motivations, make no mistake,” Tapper said of that interview. “This was the communications staff of the White House facilitating an opportunity for an accused domestic abuser to tell journalists … that his ex-wives were liars. All of it paid for by your tax dollars, and a clear contradiction to the narrative the White House is now pushing—that once they saw the black eye photo, Porter was essentially shown the door.”
“Okay, everyone got that?” Tapper asked. “So today, a process that was not completed was the one that was internal, at the White House, the white house personnel office. That, of course is the exact opposite of what Sanders said just 24 hours ago.”

“The White House has yet to be forthright and transparent with the American people about how this happened,” Tapper said. “The most clarity we have gotten so far might be from President Trump himself who has wished Porter well in his future but has not said or written one single word of support for the victims of his alleged abuse, or for survivors of domestic violence in general. Instead, we’ve been misled and and we’ve been lied to time and again. And for what?”

And April Ryan has her sources, and Trump's declaration of "transparency" are suddenly very feeble:

"April, I’m going to ask you straight up to you, did the White House lie?” said CNN chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto asked Tuesday, while guest hosing Out Front for Erin Burnett.

“You know, the question is, what does Sarah know,” Ryan suggested, referring to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

“Apparently it’s not just about the fact that the FBI had the information, I’m hearing that personnel security office works with the National Security Council along with White House personnel,” Ryan reported.

“So three groups that have information about those who are working in the White House, or potential people who the president or senior staff may want to bring in,” Ryan continued.

“And typically, again, from sources, from various sources, when they give an interim security clearance, that’s just for a limited amount of time and it’s supposed to be narrow in scope,” she said. “The person is not supposed to be able to touch top secret or classified materials.”

“And if Rob Porter was a priority, he could have had his security clearance by now, if indeed he passed the muster,” Ryan continued. “So there is a lot of holes here. And the question with finding out this information, the question is now, if you are limited in scope with what are you supposed to do with interim security clearance, Jared Kushner has interim security clearance, but he is talking to Bibi Netanyahu.”

I haven't seen language like this since the days of Ron "That statement is no longer operative" Ziegler, Nixon's Press Secretary during Watergate:

“Watching the press secretary at Monday’s briefing, the words that came to mind were these: A new low,” Sullivan wrote. “Yes, a new rock bottom from the podium at the Trump White House press briefing.”

Sullivan noted that reaching “a new rock bottom” was a feat, considering Huckabee Sanders’ predecessors, Sean Spicer and Anthony Scaramucci. “But she did it,” Sullivan wrote. “Time after time Monday, Sanders stuck to her pallid script, repeating without elaboration the words she said the president had told her to say, expressing his supposed support for domestic violence victims, although just days before he seemed much more sympathetic to those accused of abuse, specifically his deposed aide Rob Porter.”

“With her dismissive gestures, her curled-lip sneers, her ready insults and guilt-free lies, Sanders is a conduit — a tool — for Trump’s own abusive relationship with journalists,” Sullivan wrote, wondering if reporters really need to “keep coming back for more.”

Even Steve Schmidt and Nicole Wallace are appalled:

“Steve, I want you to see if you can come up with any parallel. I reached back through the Palin years, to the Bush years and we were deeply flawed. We made more mistakes before lunch than most people in normal jobs make in five years. But I can’t remember the depravity that I see in this White House,” Wallace admitted.

“That’s for sure,” Schmidt confirmed.

“[I] wonder if you can just talk about how sort of effective it is for them to do such a volume business of chaos and crisis creation,” Wallace suggested.

“I think the important thing to understand, to remember, for the American people, is that this is not normal. This is — there’s never been an administration like this,” Schmidt argued. “In fact, when you look out across all the western democracies, you don’t see lying like this. the constancy of lying, the dishonesty, the allegations of conspiracy, the smearing, the defend-to-the-end at all costs the image and the reputation of the leader”

“There’s never been anything like this. We are in a — we are in unchartered territory with this comportment and it’s vile,” Schmidt added. “The behavior is disgraceful, it’s disgusting.”

“The country has never before now elected somebody who is so manifestly unfit intellectually, morally, temperamentally, for the office of President of the United States,” Schmidt concluded.
Even Newt Gingrich blew up the latest "bombshell" regarding Susan Rice and a meeting with Obama in January 2017, on Fox&Friends:

“Well, I’m guessing that she had taken those notes — and this is a guess as a historian — that she had finally gotten around to it, had a few extra minutes and thought she would capture it in a structured document,” Gingrich explained.

“As she’s cleaning out her office?” Earhardt asked.

“Right,” Gingrich replied. “No, literally, I think — I’ve had that happen to me — I’ll have some piece of paper from a meeting three weeks ago that I never quite got around to capturing in an email or putting into a file. It may well have been she was just tidying up.”
So it was either nefarious and conspiratorial, or it was....perfectly ordinary.

Small wonder, then, this happened:

He'll find a crowd to whip into a frenzy; but the GOP is going to own shutting down DACA, even if Trump's Usual Gang of Idiots figure out how to shut it down correctly.  His budget proposals are already too little too late, and voters are itching to make him a lame duck for two years.

As I said before, the best thing about Trump is that he may have convinced the press to do their jobs the way Margaret Sullivan described them:  “To state the obvious: Holding powerful people and institutions accountable is the chief role of journalism in this country, and a crucial one.”  Hopefully they won't forget that when they don't have Donald Trump to kick around anymore.