Monday, July 23, 2018

Beyond a reasonable doubt, it's a big country in need of citizens

Stony Man Trail, Shenandoah National Forest

     The pump at the gas station was old. So after I dipped my credit card, when it came time to choose a fuel type, I mashed my fingers on the "87." Nothing. I paused, puzzled, then some residual muscle memory took over and I lifted the metal hook the nozzle had perched on. The pump sprang to life.
     Nor did the pump, after dispensing the gas, ask me whether I want a receipt—I've learned to refuse them; why print one just to throw it away?
     The receipt automatically spat out, and told me we had paused in Hurricane, West Virginia. I added it to the list of enigmatic Mountain State place names like Nitro and Mossy.
     "Hurricane?" The ocean is 500 miles away. 
     What you call something, and what it actually is or represents, can be two very different things. Turns out the town is named for windblown trees.
     It was odd last week to track President Trump's Helsinki performance at a remove, while on vacation. Missing the original event, following the radiating shock waves bouncing around Twitter. People kept calling it "treason" though I don't see how that could be. "Fawning" maybe. Not an attractive quality in a person, never mind a president. But not a crime either.   
     Hugely significant, for a day, then not at all, as the smoke cleared and there he was, untouched. The liquid metal man in Terminator 2. His supporters, gulled dupes clinging to their charlatan, undeterred.
     I don't want to insult them. There's too much of that. Several times we saw a billboard, "Beyond Reasonable Doubt: Jesus is Alive." I smiled, admiring the subtle jab. You'll believe what we do, it suggests, if you've got any sense.
     Really? He sure ain't alive for me. Or for lots of folks, and believing Jesus is alive is not reason, but faith.
     You can't drive five miles in rural America without some farmer shaking his religion at you, and not nicely either. Do they win converts with that? Or are they just venting their frustration at other people insisting on believing differently than they do. It's a threat, and they lash out, calling them irrational, even though irrationality is a definition of faith.

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  1. Our country's problems start with the fact that for the last 30 years, the overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress have been hopeless wimps, that are afraid of their own shadows!
    Not once have they been able to convince the old liberal fogies on the Supreme Court to retire when there's a Democrat in the White House.
    The Democrats have nominated incompetent candidates for president.
    Dukakis took a six week vacation from campaigning after he was nominated, to run the Massachusetts government, claiming that it would show the country how good he was at governing.
    Failed. Incidentally, a Dukakis protege, Martha Coakley has blown two election in that state, one foe US Senate & one for governor, because she did exactly the same thing!
    Al Gore was certainly a better candidate than Junior Bush, but was a truly lousy candidate, he came off as a big hunk of wood & lost to a moron.
    John Kerry was & still is a multi-millionaire pompous ass.
    Hillary Clinton also ran a shitty campaign & lost to a conman, because the public doesn't want dynasties in the White House.
    That's why Trump got the Republican nomination, Jeb Bust sucked up all the pre-primary media coverage & all the mainstream Republican officials were for him, not realizing the country & specifically the Republican voters didn't want yet a third Bush to be president, after the truly incompetent job his brother did, which included wrecking the economy. None of the other Republicans got any traction, let alone serious money to run, not even Kasich, who was & is probably the sanest Republican in that group of 16, despite the fact he's too far to the right politically.
    We are doomed as a country due to the now Trumpublican Party!

    1. A lot of what you say is true, if a bit exaggerated. One thing we have learned, if Ruth Bader Ginsberg(?) had retired at our urging Yurtle the Turtle would have found an excuse to hold her seat open.

    2. Had Ginsburg retired in 2009, in the first year of Obama's term, she was 76 then & there wasn't any way her successor could be denied, because the Democrats had a Senate majority then.
      But like so many other SCOTUS justices, her ego is out of control & she thinks of herself as the indispensable woman.

    3. At 76 there was no cause for her resignation. At 84 a better case could be made but since Mitch and his posse had vowed to oppose Obama at every turn, who knows what lengths they'd have gone to. Your judgement of her character is unwarranted and unsupported, shame on you.

    4. Yes, there was reason for her to retire. Obama had a Senate majority & there wasn't anyway for the Republicans to stop the approval of her successor!
      And I have nothing to be shameful about! My judgment of her is fully warranted & totally supported!

  2. One reason China is "striding forward, commanding the world" is that it's a dictatorship. In the short run, dictatorships are always more efficient and focused than democracies, because they don't have any messy debates or minorities who insist on airing grievances. Any grievances can be brushed aside, often with a rifle butt.

    But dictatorships invariably lose in the end, because they don't have the self-corrective aspect of democracies. What makes democracies messy and inefficient in the short run makes them adapt in the long run. Dictatorships, on the other hand, are subject to the whims and bad decisions of their dictators. This was why China had episodes like the Great Leap Forward, in which more than 10 million citizens starved to death because of Mao's bright ideas about how they should be making steel instead of growing rice.

  3. Get too wise-ass and too snarky, and that farmer or small-town fanatic will not only start shaking his religion at you, but his fist as well, and not just figuratively, either. They take their religion seriously down in West Virginny and beyond, and they don't realize that they haven't converted non-believers just because they have silenced them.

    They're angry and frustrated with those who don't think Jaysus is the Truth, the Light and the Way. Non-belief in the Savior is a threat to their freedom and to their Personal Life. And they can get pretty ugly and do some awful things in the name of their Lord. Evangelicals have been nicknamed Bible-thumpers for a long, long time, but now they're just as likely to thump non-believers upside the head with their Good Book as not. And if they don't actually thump you, well, they'll Trump you at election time. Don't ever try telling thems that their Way is not The Only Way.

    Which brings to mind the famous Jack Nicholson line about freedom, as he and the hippies sat around the campfire smoking weed, in "Easy Rider":

    "Of course, don't ever tell anybody that they're not free, 'cause then they're gonna get real busy killin' and maimin' to prove to you that they are."

  4. I find it interesting (and self defeating) that some believers go to great lengths to show that the manna that fed the Israelites has a rational explanation, that the parting of the Red Sea could have happened (since something like it does happen), that Noah's Ark is plausible, that some sort of tremendous burst of energy could have created the image of Christ on the Shroud of Turin.


    1. With 600,000 original souls on the Exodus having to die because of the sin of the golden calf, where are the bones? Probably the same place as the water sufficient to immerse 16,000 ft Mt. Ararat?

  5. Getting back to the point Neil was making with his headline, one aspect of the problems of an aging population insufficiently replenished with the young surfaces in the task of maintaining military manpower levels. The military services struggle to fill the ranks with volunteers when the economy is booming, and the problem is accelerated as the cohort of age qualified men and women shrinks in size -- which is the trend.

    Just one aspect of the phenomenon, but one that has consequences for our security and our pocketbooks.



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