On Christian Faith, American Politics, and Some Specific Human Conditions


It’s just one of those things: Can we laugh, now?

After all, some issues really are serious, and no matter how laughably absurd we might find a moment, well, it never is laughable if we find ourselves in the middle of it all.

Bryan FischerIn response to the influx of Central American children fleeing to the southern border of the U.S., the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer is repeating his belief that all national borders were determined by God and therefore anybody who crosses them without permission is directly offending the Creator.

In a column for BarbWire today, Fischer writes, “What we learn from the Bible is that borders are God’s idea, and that such borders are to be respected. They are not to be crossed without permission.”

(Blue)

To the one, come on, that’s absolutely laughable. To the other, it would not be a particularly reliable promise that laughing our way through the current refugee crisis at our southern border would be an exercise of any useful function.

Right Wing WatchTo a third, one might notice that Mr. Fischer is invoking God’s judgment for earthly authority; we might imagine that his explanation of “what would Jesus do?” would be rather quite interesting. Especially considering the fact that Fischer’s exception to the rule is war.

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Blue, Miranda. “Bryan Fischer: ‘Our Southern Border Is There By God’s Design'”. Right Wing Watch. 10 July 2014.

This America Is Brought To You By ….


Remember this ....Via that blessed scourge otherwise known as Facebook comes a lovely gem that everyone should grab a local copy of, and hang onto until the 2016 presidential race. Some things really are that important.

(Tip o’the hat to D.P.)

The Appearance of … Well, Something


George Washington BridgeIs it fair to say that by the time the key players lawyer up, as such, we can start taking what should have been the silliest political conspiracy theory of the year seriously?

Even worse … well, the transition from silly to serious seems nearly obligatory, doesn’t it?

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Progress, Sure, but Whence Come We?


“Woo-hoo! I can go to the doctor now? I’m serious. I need to go.”

Jeff Fletcher

Good news isn’t always … happy? … reassuring? It is hard to explain, of course, but amid the vicious politics echoing throughout the Beltway, it is easy to forget minor details such as the notion that there really are human stakes in this fight. As Jason Linkins recently reminded:

[T]he promulgation of an “Obama’s Katrina” metaphor firmly underscores the basic lack of real stakes involved for all of the people having that conversation. Obama is going to live well and without concern for the rest of his life. The vast majority of the lawmakers involved in the ongoing debate over the matter will as well. So will most of the pundits currently batting this meme back and forth. They’ll all be fine. Really, super fine, actually. They’re going to have terrific, largely worry-free lives ….

…. There has to be a great story out there about what life is like for normal human Americans who aren’t affluent political celebrities or who don’t enjoy a luxurious sinecure in Beltway punditry. But the saddest part of all of this is that the Affordable Care Act’s woes have created only a brief interest in the woes of ordinary Americans, and just how terrifying it can be for one’s life to depend on the kindness of insurance providers in the individual market. Right now, if you can proffer a letter attesting to the fact that you’ve lost your health insurance, chances are you can finally get a reporter who had never previously evinced interest in the matter on the phone.

It wasn’t always this way. A July 2009 study conducted by Families USA found that between January 2008 and December 2010, in the teeth of the economic downturn, over 44,000 Americans were receiving notice that they’d be losing their health insurance every week. The same people breaking story after story about those losing their coverage now had better things to do back when it really mattered. As with almost any story that we could tell about the rampant, constant, tragic economic insecurity of the average American, it only seems to swell up as a Thing That Matters when such plight can play a role in the Beltway parlor game of who’s winning and who’s losing.

That’s what makes the whole “Obama’s Katrina” construction such a multi-layer insult to normal people. It makes the assumption that Bush actually suffered some real material loss in the hurricane that hit New Orleans. He didn’t. It further assumes that some similar hardship is coming to Obama’s doorstep. This is only true if we define “hardship” as “no hardship at all.” It glibly trivializes the real people who have suffered in both instances—those who suffered some sort of devastation in the Gulf region, or those who have been dealt a hard blow in the insurance market. Finally, it only underscores the wholly transient nature of the media’s concern for the welfare of ordinary people. If their suffering can’t be translated into a telenovela about the electoral troubles of affluent political celebrities, it doesn’t merit coverage.

And there are important stories out there, good and bad, in the PPACA transition. Stephanie McCrummen provided The Washington Post, this weekend, with just such a compelling story. And, to be certain, it is good news out of Kentucky, but at the same time it’s heartbreaking. Continue reading

Something, Something, Burt Ward


A legacy of acrimony between President Putin and the Muslim-dominated North Caucasus came to the fore last week when a female suicide bomber from that area blew herself up on a bus in Volgograd, killing six people. The town where she was from–only a day’s drive from Sochi–had been under counterterrorism surveillance for at least a year . . . .

Emma Margolin

It is not that one cannot be more specific, but, rather, the question of why one needs to Emma Margolin’s report for MSNBC verges on revolutionary language:

ScochiA legacy of acrimony between President Putin and the Muslim-dominated North Caucasus came to the fore last week when a female suicide bomber from that area blew herself up on a bus in Volgograd, killing six people. The town where she was from–only a day’s drive from Sochi–had been under counterterrorism surveillance for at least a year, according to Time magazine.

The bomber’s motives remain unclear, but she appears to have been aligned with an insurgency group whose aim has been to transform the region into an Islamic stronghold and expel Russian forces, whom they view as occupiers. Over the summer, the movement’s self-proclaimed Chechen leader released a video message calling for the use of “maximum force” ahead of the Winter Games.

The attack follows a bloody two months in which over 130 people have been killed in clashes between government forces and militants, sparking nationalist riots this month in southern Moscow. A majority of those deaths took place in Dagestan, where the Boston bombers lived before emigrating to the U.S.

As prime minister, Putin directed the second Chechen war. Over a decade later, those separatist powers remain strong. Experts have warned that last week’s suicide bombing could be the first in a chain of attacks against Russian targets.

Colbert-QUOTE-RealizeLiberalCertes, there are all manner of newsish biscuits and treats to be found in all that, but the narrative is what counts here. To the one, there is something about the liberal bias of reality. But, to the other, there is also the part about recognizing one’s liberal tendencies in making human choices instead of simply cheering the cause.

Something, something, Burt Ward.

This thing writes itself.

At least, I hope, since I can’t explain it otherwise.

Advice and Extortion


RandPaulEyes

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

United States Constitution, II.2

Sometimes it feels like fantasy: “These are dark times, there is no denying . . . .”

Never mind.

It would be wrong to call JeeYeon Park’s CNBC report—

Equities briefly pared their gains after Senator Rand Paul threatened to put Janet Yellen’s Fed chair nomination on hold this week, according to sources close to Paul.

Paul is insisting on a vote on his Fed transparency bill, and has informed Senate leadership of his intentions, according to the source.

Meanwhile, a Senate Democratic aide told CNBC that the ability of Paul to single-handedly block the nomination “should not be overstated” as Paul would need 40 other senators to join him to cut off a motion to end debate and bring the nomination to the floor. Although hearings have not yet been scheduled, the aide said the leadership at this point is confident the nomination will succeed.

—little noticed, as the markets noticed and reacted, causing other people to notice—

Sen. Rand Paul is getting a lot of attention this morning for his threat to hold up the nomination of Janet L. Yellen to head the Federal Reserve, but he may have very little leverage to stop her confirmation.

The Kentucky Republican is seeking a vote on his Federal Reserve transparency legislation as part of considering the Yellen nomination. The announcement came in a YouTube video posted Thursday by the Campaign for Liberty, a nonprofit affiliated with Paul’s father, former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

Legislation to require an audit of the Federal Reserve has had bipartisan support in the past when pushed by both Pauls, but it has faced no shortage of opposition and roadblocks.

“Sen. Rand Paul will be demanding a vote on audit the Fed in the Senate when they consider the new Fed nominee,” John Tate, the chairman of Campaign for Liberty, said in the video.

However, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., could decide to ignore Paul’s request by moving to limit debate on Yellen’s nomination by filing cloture. If Reid gets 60 votes, there’s no need to make a deal with Paul or anyone else. Yellen appears to already have enough support to overcome a filibuster, unless Republicans and some sympathetic Democrats decide to back his quest for a vote on the audit bill.

“Right now, the Senate is preparing to debate and confirm the new Obama nominee to chair the Federal Reserve,” Paul said. “I say vote no on a new Fed chairman without a vote on my audit the Fed bill. This will be the fight of our lives.”

—and now we have an issue.

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