November 30, 2020

The Saturday Monks Brunch: Dec. 2, 2017


Tomorrow, we begin a brand, spanking new church year. This calls for champagne! For mimosas! For blintzes! For cinnamon rolls! For brie! That’s right — this calls for monks to come together and have BRUNCH! Welcome to The Saturday Monks Brunch at Internet Monk!

• • •


WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) – A South Carolina man out for a midnight snack took matters into his own hands at Waffle House.

Alex Bowen tells WIS-TV he couldn’t sleep, was hungry and slightly drunk, when he went to the restaurant early Thursday. But when he arrived, there were no other customers in sight – and no employee, either.

After waiting about 10 minutes for someone to show up, Bowen went outside to look around. When he still couldn’t find anyone to take – or make – his order, he got on the grill himself.

“Walked back in and waited a few more minutes and then it was go time,” Bowen laughed.

He documented the adventure on his Facebook page, after he found the lone employee on duty asleep at a table and snapped a picture.

From there, Bowen took selfies of himself behind the restaurant’s counter, frying bacon and stacking pickles on a slice of bread for what he said was a “double Texas bacon cheesesteak melt with extra pickles.”

Not one to be a rude guest, Bowen said when he was done, he “cleaned the grill, collected my ill-gotten sandwich and rolled on out.”

• • •


The city of Cohoes, NY, is not celebrating today. John Gomes of Cohoes was trying to bend metal in an attempt to imitate the History Channel television series “Forged in Fire” when he started a barrel fire in his backyard that quickly spread. As a result, three city blocks were engulfed in smoke and flames.

Mayor Shawn Morse said, “We often tell people we don’t allow open burns in the city and they often say, ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ Well, this open burn just caused millions of dollars of damage and destroyed half our downtown.”

There is a reason people on TV say, “Don’t try this at home.”

Oh, and also, by the way, when getting your Christmas tree, don’t take it home like this Massachusetts family tried to do:

• • •


From ProPublica:

For the past year, ProPublica has been documenting the state of toxic pollution left behind by the military across the U.S. As part of this investigation, we acquired a dataset of all facilities that the Department of Defense considers contaminated. Today we used the data to publish an interactive news application called Bombs in Your Backyard. Here’s how you can use it to find hazardous sites near you — and what, if anything, is being done to remedy the pollution.

The data, which has never been released before, comes from the Defense Environmental Restoration Program, which the DOD administers to measure and document cleanup efforts at current and former military locations.

• • •


The only evidence we needed was this cringe-worthy interview with Sandra Bullock…

• • •


Closer to home — to my home, at least — are the allegations that Garrison Keillor committed “inappropriate behavior,” leading to Minnesota Public Radio washing their hands of the radio icon.

At Slate, Ruth Graham gives the details:

On Wednesday, Minnesota Public Radio announced it was severing all ties to Garrison Keillor, citing allegations of “inappropriate behavior” toward a co-worker when he was producing the show. The station will stop distributing old episodes of “A Prairie Home Companion” featuring Keillor, who retired from hosting duties a year ago. And it will rename his show, which is now fronted by bluegrass musician Chris Thile. American Public Media, MPR’s parent organization, will end distribution and broadcast of “The Writer’s Almanac,” a short daily spot featuring poetry and literary tidbits. Within a day, Keillor’s decades-long radio career has been effectively scrubbed from the public square.

The details of what prompted the dramatic announcement remain murky, and Keillor’s own statements have only added to the confusion. “I put my hand on a woman’s bare back,” he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I meant to pat her back after she told me about her unhappiness and her shirt was open and my hand went up it about six inches. She recoiled. I apologized. I sent her an email of apology later and she replied that she had forgiven me and not to think about it. We were friends. We continued to be friendly right up until her lawyer called.” In a later statement, Keillor referred to “the two employees who made the allegations.” More information is forthcoming, presumably.

Prairie Home Companion has been part of my life since the late 1970s and The Writer’s Almanac is a daily dose of poetic respite in a world of banal, noisy prose. You can have a thousand Matt Lauers, but I for one am going to struggle not hearing Garrison’s voice each day.

• • •


Jay Leno used to have a recurring bit when he asked the question, “Just how fat are we getting here in America?” followed by some new indication of our national penchant for gluttony and bad taste in food. Well, here’s a study from Harvard that puts out some alarming numbers in answer to Leno’s query.

The U.S.’s obesity problem is set to get much worse, according to new Harvard research that simulates future obesity rates for those Americans who are currently children.

While a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested that almost 40% of American adults are currently obese, the new research predicts that over 57% of today’s children will be obese by the time they reach the age of 35.

The new research took data from five earlier studies about actual American children and adults’ height and weight, and simulated growth trajectories in order to project where today’s kids were likely to end up by the age of 35.

The results showed that 57.3% of today’s kids, up to the age of 19, will be obese by the age of 35. Of those, around half will become (or already be) obese during childhood, and half will become obese later on.

Maybe we’ll cut back on the brunch a bit, huh?

• • •


Some have raised an alarm that the GOP tax reform bill will have a serious negative impact on charitable giving in the U.S. Here is a statement urging Congress not to pass the tax bill from three leading organizations representing foundations and charitable nonprofits:

The charitable nonprofit and foundation communities stand united in opposition to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and, in the strongest possible terms, urge a “NO” vote on the bill. The current legislation damages the civic infrastructure upon which our communities depend, and hurts the people that we serve.

We collectively represent tens of thousands of charitable and philanthropic organizations that employ millions of individuals in every state, engage tens of millions of additional individuals who serve as board members and other volunteers, and touch the lives of virtually every American every day. For 100 years, federal tax policy has incentivized this giving spirit and empowered this crucial work. Our overriding concern, and that of our member organizations, is the impact of both versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on the people and communities we serve. On the basis of securing a sound future, maintaining our ability to serve as dedicated problem solvers in our communities, and the ability of the sector to secure resources to perform necessary work, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is fatally flawed.

The goal of simplifying the tax code and making it easier for Americans to file their taxes is admirable, but the collateral damage this simplification would cause is too great a cost. According to Republican estimates, nearly doubling the standard deduction would result in only five percent of taxpayers itemizing their tax deductions — placing the charitable deduction out of the reach for 95 percent of taxpayers. As a result, experts calculate that the absence of this powerful incentive for such a vast majority of taxpayers would reduce giving by $13 – $20 billion every year. It is regrettable that neither chamber has recognized the simple solution to this issue: a universal charitable deduction that would extend an incentive to give to all taxpayers, not just the very few who would itemize.

A decrease in giving of this scale would force charitable nonprofits to make significant cuts to their operations—meaning that millions of people will no longer have access to the services that nonprofits are currently able to offer. Economists also estimate a loss of 220,000 to 264,000 jobs in the nonprofit sector as a result of the cuts that will be necessary for many charities to keep their doors open. A bill that is designed to create jobs shouldn’t be taking away the jobs of almost a quarter of a million Americans who are trying to help others.

• • •


• • •


On Facebook, John Rutter is hosting a 2017 Advent Calendar, with a wonderful choral song of the season each day. Here is the first carol, from Friday, December 1: the Ralph Vaughn Williams arrangement of “This Is the Truth Sent From Above.” Check it out each day for another selection designed to prepare your heart for Christ’s coming.


  1. senecagriggs says

    Wasn’t it just yesterday that we finished off 2016 and started 2017?

    I have listened to Family Radio for years – turned it off whenever the late Harold Camping was doing his particular – name the date for the end of time – thing. Of course he was wrong but Family Radio remains and they always play great Christmas music through-out the month.

    This month is no exception.

  2. I must say that NPR wiping Garrison Keillor off the slate–pretending as though he and his work never existed–is TOO MUCH! This sexual conduct witch hunt is doing harm to women with serious complaints.

    • 1- The problem of sexual harassment and assault is a huge, deep, ingrained problem in our society, and likely in most societies around the world. It is far past time for it to end, and attention to the problem, frank admission that it exists and is pervasive, is the necessary first step

      2 – The idea that women never make false allegations about sexual harassment and assault, an idea that has much currency in the media and the public discussion of intellectual and progressive commentators today, can be made only out of the most profound and even willful ignorance of human nature and behavior.

      How to balance these two truths requires Solomon-like wisdom x 10,000, a wisdom completely lacking among our leaders and thinkers, as well as the rank-and-file.

      • Well, I ran across this take on the matter yesterday…

        “(I)t’s not just matter of bringing the pendulum back half way. The pendulum will have to swing all the way in the other direction so that justice is restored to women.

        So that means that, yes, we will see some women take advantage of this pendulum swing and try to ride it with trumped up charges. But for every one of those very few women who are lying, remember that there are millions of women who told the truth and were never believed. Or were punished. Even killed.

        For every man who is unjustly accused, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of men who got away with it. The grope. The rape. The discrimination. The violence.”

        • Yes, the pervasive injustice has run in only one direction for thousands of years, perhaps since the beginning of humanity. A small degree of injustice in the other direction is to be expected, and must be tolerated, although if one finds oneself among the falsely accused I suppose that’s more easily said than done.

          But, in human affairs, does the pendulum often settle, or spend much time, in the halfway position, or has it not usually been the case that one form of social injustice is followed by a reactive equal and opposite injustice?

        • flatrocker says

          “It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, ‘whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,’ and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.” John Adams

          Be wary of our zealousness.

          • But flatrocker, for thousands of years the innocence of women was not protected by a social arrangement that left them at the mercy of male sexual predators, harassers and assailants. Several young women I’ve spoken to over the last few weeks about the “Me Too” movement have told me that they don’t know a single woman who hasn’t experienced multiple sexual harassment at the hands of men. This is not a thing of the past, but an ongoing social pathology.

            • flatrocker says

              Yes, Yes, Yes – Robert I get it.
              But not at the expense of innocence.

              • Whose innocence?

                • flatrocker says

                  Trading innocence lost for innocence taken is not justice.
                  You know that.

                  • I know that. But do you know how to achieve the balance? Is every accusation to be held to the criteria of courtroom establishment of guilt? That is frankly impossible. You know that.

                    • flatrocker says

                      I’ll take due process. It’s plodding, cumbersome, frustrating and sometimes wrong-headed. But it’s a far cry better than prosecution by Social Media.

                    • That means leaving many of the victims unrecognized, and continuing to be at the mercy of sexual predators.

                    • flatrocker says

                      So are you advocating we round up all the suspects and do…what…?
                      If we have lost faith in the judicial process, where are we to turn?

                      Maybe Dolores Iaburruri, the charismatic leader during the Spanish civil war, said it best…”It is better to kill one hundred innocents than to let one guilty person go.”

                      Why is this then not the road map to follow (metaphorically speaking of course)?

                    • There are non-criminal punishments that societies routinely make use of; public shaming, such as that non-married pregnant women used to receive, will likely be among the modes. This is going to happen, whether we like it or not.

                    • Right now, our President is trying, and declaring guilty, in the court of public opinion a man who was actually found not guilty by the judicial system!

                    • flatrocker says

                      Have at it, comrade.
                      I think we have reached absurdity critical mass.
                      Peace out.

                    • I think the major problem here is that we are prone to think – and our legal system is premised on – atomistic individual responsibility. Neither it nor us are well-equipped to wrestle with and remedy problems ariaing from systemic prejudices.

                    • flatrocker, I am aware of the dilemma involved in this issue, and not callous to the danger of the innocent being made to suffer because of false allegations. But I’m even more aware that any solution to the dilemma that ultimately supports the status quo, is no real solution at all.

                    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                      If we have lost faith in the judicial process, where are we to turn?


                      Maybe Dolores Iaburruri, the charismatic leader during the Spanish civil war, said it best…”It is better to kill one hundred innocents than to let one guilty person go.”

                      A proverb that was also used by the Viet Cong, except the VC used the word “enemy” instead of “guilty person”.

      • It complicates things from the victim end, too. It is hard to be honest without fearing either the opposite poles of being ignored/disbelieved OR the person who offended against you being overpunished in a way out of your control. The lack of a spectrum seeming to exist is hard.

        Also, you can say take it to the courts slow, as I heard someone say – but I know given the choice through accepting terrible boundary crossing for months while negotiating an amicable divorce with my offender was LESS painful than a dragged out court battle over it for years for me. What have I done to the next person who walks into his life, though? How do I save that person without leaving him scarlet marked forever, no matter what he does to change?

        There needs to be a middle ground.

    • It’s shocking. SHOCKING, I tell you! Why, Garrison Keillor touching a woman’s bare back is so heinous, it makes the molesting of 14 year old girls look downright trivial. :-/

    • Ronald Avra says

      The Writer’s Almanac was for me a particularly unique moment of relief each day. Perhaps, due to my age, the selections of poetry Keillor read frequently touched on some aspect of my life that was pressing me in the face. I’ve tried listen to other poets read their own work, and it seems as though Keillor’s delivery exceeded the ability of the others for fluidity and sensitivity of delivery. I don’t know how thoroughly Minnesota Public Radio, investigated the claims, but NPR has recently lost at least two male executives at the national level over workplace sexual harassment, and perhaps MPR decided to pre-emptively and radically address the issue.

      The other issue is that Keillor stated that he apologized and the woman accepted the apology. Unfortunately, whenever another individual is involved, apologizing may never adequately address the error. The other person may decide at some point that the amends were inadequate or to exercise the opportunity for vindictiveness. We will never achieve perfection in our relationships, but it is necessary to slow down, look, listen, and think. Actions cannot be retracted.

      • “The other issue is that Keillor stated that he apologized and the woman accepted the apology.”

        And you believe him?

        • Ronald Avra says

          It is a matter of he said, she said. Unless he has a history of obvious offenses, it is basically impossible to make a clear call.

          • I have not heard enough in the media about the Keillor case to make even a provisional decision about who I would believe. There seems to be a paucity of details, insofar as I’ve seen.

            • Thank you Robert for speaking out on this issue. I’ve been relieved lately to see many men who are speaking out and siding with the women instead of saying, “but, but, but!” As for Keillor, I’m neutral. I’ve enjoyed his show in the past, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s more to this story. I also wonder when this is going to hit the seminaries. Every time a woman has broken a male stronghold, many men act badly, so it just stands to reason that there have been problems in seminaries.

              • One of the reasons that men who have witnessed sexual aggression in the workplace have not spoken out on this issue in the past is also one of the reasons women haven’t, indeed the victims haven’t: fear of retaliation. Even women who have acquired much power in the interim, like Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, have been afraid to step forward and testify to what they’ve experienced and witnessed; the same is true of average women and men who have either experienced or been witness to sexual harassment, and even assault.

                But the proverbial straw seems to have broken the camel’s back, and, to mix metaphors, the floodgates have poured forth witnesses’ and victims’ experiences in great rivers. It would be a shame if this moment, this “Me Too” movement, ended without some significant change occurring; this is an opportunity that may not come around again for a long time.

                • I suspect that there is a repeated pattern of this behavior by Keillor that can no longer be ignored. Not now.

                  Yes, i love Writers’ Almanac and PHC, but i do not have much, if any, tolerance for abusive behavior. Every woman has a lifetime of fending off predatory behavior, even if she is surrounded by decent guys in her personal life. We all run the gauntlet every day, in every place of work, on every street – in plain daylight, too.

                  The attempts to plead on these guy’s behalf strike me as disingenuous at best.

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                  But the proverbial straw seems to have broken the camel’s back, and, to mix metaphors, the floodgates have poured forth witnesses’ and victims’ experiences in great rivers.

                  To the point where we have to worry about “bandwagon effect” and some false accusations jumping aboard to discredit the true accusations. (i.e. Settling old Scores, 15 Minutes of Fame, or even a deliberate counter-op.) I understand usually one in twenty accusations are false, but even that one in twenty is enough to glom onto to discredit the other ninetten.

  3. BTW, won’t this tax redistribution of wealth to the top 5% bill also mess with 501 3(C) charitable giving? If I had my druthers I’d rather see a targeted NO deductions for church contributions and church property taxed.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says


      Fortunately we are on track to eliminate the deductions for pastors by court action – long overdue court action.

      The GOP “reform” bill on the other hand is deeply misguided and goes in almost exactly the wrong direction.

      I am looking forward to the repeal of the Johnson amendment; they think that will open the flood gates for religious money in politics [as if those are currently closed!]. Making churches nakedly partisan will be like letting in the sun light….into a room full of vampires. I predict young people will be repelled out of Evangelical churches like rats from a burning building. Eventually hubris destroys itself – this many finally trigger that “Evangelical collapse”.

      • A very likely outcome. But bear in mind the likely related consequences – massive demographic secularization. Look at the state of the church today in those nations in Europe where the churches were most closely wedded to rightism and nationalism in the 20th century…

        • But in many of those places in Europe, it is now the churches that are the voice of progressivism, while segments of the population, most alarmingly including what may be significant numbers of young people, are moving to the extreme right and nationalism in a scary way.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            > it is now the churches that are…

            Innovation and reinvention requires freedom – and a collapse can provide that, the old shackles don’t bind anymore.

            I remain pessimistically hopeful.

        • I’ve been reading online Alt-right sources lately, and the European identity factions among them routinely emphasize returning to pre-Christian, pagan European traditions and spirituality. It seems that pan-European secularism is in danger of being followed by nationalistic, neo-pagan identitarianism; perhaps secularism lacks the values of social cohesion that could resist a lapse back into the ugly past. It’s alarming.

          • Adam Tauno Williams says

            > perhaps secularism

            …. is, and always was, a myth.

            “Secular” is like being “White”, it is a descriptor not an identity. People who try to make it into an identity are always creating, or grafting in, some other identity.

            Secular, like White, is far too general to have meaning.

            • That Other Jean says

              This. “Secular” is the absence of religion. Other than that, it’s all over the map in terms of beliefs and actions..

              • Adam Tauno Williams says


              • Secular space is the non-ideological space from which to dispassionately and disinterestedly consider competing ideological spaces. Which is why ideological spaces inherently mistrust secular space and sometimes oppose it outright. It is the foundation of our liberty.

                • Wait there’s more…

                  In my formulation ideological spaces compete with each other. The wise ideological space supports secular space because it prevents any one ideological space from imposing its ideology on others. (By providing space to the dissenters from ideological space a place to escape to.) The unwise ideological space opposes secular space precisely because it wishes to dominate the competing ideological spaces. So the paradox is complete. Allowing secular space to dominate ideological spaces ensures a vigorous competition between ideological spaces.

          • John Barry says

            Robert F., Can you give me some websites you consider Alt -Right? I personally am unclear what the definition of alt right is unless it like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Is Poland and Hungary alt right for choosing to enforce her legal borders and control immigration into their country,. Was Poland alt right when they would not accept the Russians tying to change their language, culture and religion under the USSR days not too long ago. How about Hungary who had the revolt in 1956 against the Russianifying of their country. What qualifies one has alt right/ Spencer coined the term I believe to pretend his influence and following was greater than it was and is. Thanks for letting me know.

            • I’m not Robert, but I think the best way of quantifying these phenomenon was written by Umberto Eco over 20 years ago. Just compare the person/party/platform with his list of descriptors and see how it shapes up.

              It’s a long read but well worth the effort.


              • john barry says

                Eeyore, thanks for the link, I enjoyed the viewpoint from his vantage point of living during the fascist war years in Italy and Italy politics are chaotic since WW 2. . So labels were and are still not applied correctly nor do they describe the social and political forces at work in a country. In America who are the real anti fascist , the mob denying fee speech or the person giving a speech that is unpopular with the majority? If I believe that a country should have the right even the duty to its citizens to enforce it borders and the entry into that country am I a nationalist which lately has sinister overtones, am I a nativist? Is 2017 Italy wrong to stop the flow of people who want to migrate to Italy, no matter what the cost is to the citizens and society of Italy? I do appreciate the article and again thanks. It is certainly food for thought .

            • John Barry,
              Well, for starters, if you can keep your gorge down, try Red Ice TV on Youtube. The sidebar at that site listing others of like mind then lead down increasingly horrific corridors. Google Brittany Pettibone on Twitter (and sidebar links — follow the sidebar links and their connections to see the unfiltered horror) to see what the distaff side of the white nationalists are thinking.

              Alt-right = white nationalism= each ethnic group should have it own geographic territory over which it rules, and Europe, the U.S., Australia, Canada, and a few other regions belong to white Europeans, so all others get out. That is the core of Alt-right thinking and politics. Ethnic cleansing, of one kind or another, would be a prerequisite for achieving its objectives. They sometimes call it identitarianism, because they take this to be a more palatable euphemism for the general public; but it’s not.

              • john barry says

                Robert F., Thanks , will check the sites out. Out of 300 million people in the USA I wonder what the following of the alt right nuts would be, I have no idea but I hope it is small . thanks agagin

                • Here’s a sample of the poison that’s being pushed at Red Ice TV: It expresses the vile heart of the Alt-right movement, using a pretty face and appeals to fear and loathing of the Other to put its message across. Notice its glorification of conquest, supremacy, and the supposed natural right of the strong to subjugate the weak; notice how it ties this into nature and tradition with the prerogatives of racial power. Such ideas are having widespread influence in both Europe and the US at this time; this influence is not limited, by any means, to those who would acknowledge themselves as Alt-right. We are at a dangerous moment of Western history, yet again. Hell opens out before us.

                  • Robert, may i make one small correction? White *supremacism.”

                  • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                    Notice its glorification of conquest, supremacy, and the supposed natural right of the strong to subjugate the weak; notice how it ties this into nature and tradition with the prerogatives of racial power.

                    A certain Austrian with a funny little mustache would agree 110%.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            I’ve been reading online Alt-right sources lately, and the European identity factions among them routinely emphasize returning to pre-Christian, pagan European traditions and spirituality.

            Channeling Heinrich Himmler et al?

        • Of course, Alt-right European nationalism will not provide pan-European social cohesion. Its purveyors routinely and conveniently gloss over the almost constant, and only briefly suspended, state of war that had existed among the various European peoples across the centuries, and possibly the millennia, up until the late 20th century. Right up to the modern era, so-called Germanic/Nordic Europeans considered Slavic Europeans to be subhuman; in this country, the U.S., the descendants of Germanic/Nordic Europeans considered my Italian immigrant forbears to be subhuman. Pan-European secularism is the noble attempt to put this history of intra-European racism and war behind Europe; I’m afraid the attempt may be failing.

      • Andrew Zook says

        I’m hoping this, “Eventually hubris destroys itself” happens at the religious level and other areas as well, and soon. I want to get it over with, because the hubris level is quite high in some quarters and begging for a fall.

  4. Looks like monks eat well these days… ;o)

    • Don’t think that’s a monastery – I think I see both people in mufti and women.

      +1 about Garrison Keillor. The way that people accused of unproven sexual misconduct are being made into unpersons smacks of the worst era of Stalinism. (And it doesn’t help that double standards are being applied so the ex-bankrupt failed Apprentice USA host gets a free ride)

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        The worst of stalinism? That seems more than a bit over-wrought.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        But “the ex-bankrupt failed Apprentice USA host” is a Born-Again Bible-Believing CHRISTIAN(TM)! James Dobson proclaimed him so last October! And all the Born-Again Bible-Believing CHRISTIANS(TM) give him Praise and Adoration!

    • This monk has to cut-back, for sure. Over the last few years, every time I’m weighed at the beginning of a visit to my health care professionals, I weigh more than I ever have before in my life! Yesterday at the Dr.’s office I weighed in at 240 Lbs, yet another personal worst! Time for a change.

      • john barry says

        Robert F. Last visit my Doctor told me I was fat.
        I asked for second opinion.
        He told me you are ugly too.

        RIP Henny Youngman, one of the great ones.

  5. Well, the Senate passed the GOP tax bill in the wee hours last night. Once again, irregular procedure and super-fast circulation, before anyone could really get a bead on the numbers or implications, was the tactic employed. Which means, next time the Democrats have control of Congress, they will just reverse course, the way Republicans are now. Likely a Pyrrhic victory for the GOP, and no victory at all for the American people, given what seems to be in this bill. The charities will just have to tighten their belts; we are entering a miserly, let-them-eat cake era in American politics.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > we are entering a miserly, let-them-eat cake era in American politics.

      Yep. This bill will hurt people, a lot. :(.
      And the GOP is proudly proud that they don’t care.
      I miss the GOP of Vern Ehlers and his kind.

      • They know which side of their bread is buttered. The big corporate donors basically told them, “Give us tax cuts or we stop donating to your campaigns, and you can face the Tea party alone.”

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          > and you can face the Tea party alone.

          I know from face-to-face conversations that there is nothing they fear more than the Tea Party; I suspect they have nightmares about them at night. The gravitational force of the TP warp everything into moving-right; the response to each failure, and the backlash, will be to move further right. At least until the TP dissipates [and all political coalitions do; one morning you wake up, and their just gone, and the world has moved on to the next thing].

          • john barry says

            Adam, the Tea Party is financed in large part by the Americans for Prosperity a Koch brother organization. The Koch brothers are liberations establishment Republicans who are really Never Trumpers but of course they want the tax reform. They are open borders, socially liberal and a majority of Tea Party members have no idea the influence they have. The establishment Republican should fear a back lash from conservatives who have followed their failures to govern from 2000 to present.

      • But, I always thought it was the Republicans that were the true Christians??? But they are so proud they do not care about the every day person.

      • That Other Jean says

        “The Party of Lincoln, ” my, um. . .foot. This isn’t even the party of Goldwater. He would be drummed out of the corps for being too liberal.

    • I’ll go further. This bill is evil, and in passing it those who supported it set aside any pretense of public service they may have tried to maintain before. The hidden monster in this bill is the deficit it creates and what the GOP will do to make up for the loss of revenue: they will do it on the backs of the poor and the most vulnerable by cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. It’s robbing the poor and vulnerable to enrich the already very comfortable and the outright greedy.

      It’s a shameful outrage, and the American church is largely silent on the larger evil of it and that’s shameful too. Even more shameful is the fact that most white evangelicals still support this monstrously horrid president and his party.

      I live in California, a state almost wholly controlled by democrats. Our taxes are somewhat higher than some other states, but we get something for it. A balanced budget. Infrastructure improvements. A level of guaranteed funding for public education. And Covered California healthcare under the ACA that really does help those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to have insurance. And we have some of the best public universities in the nation. It’s not perfect and sure there’s political gunk and drama and whatnot. But I’ll take it any day over what the GOP has become.

      • John, very thoughtful insight to bring religion and race into a tax bill discussion. To sum up the economic , political, social and safety problems of Ca. as gunk and drama is astute. Who pays for all the social programs in California. As they use to say in East Germany people vote with their feet, the people who can are leaving Ca. in droves due to taxes and policies. That is why the state that elected Reagan and Pete Wilson is now for sure forever blue state and that is for one reason, demographics. Just for info the lowest 20% of Americans pay a -2.2% or -$643 (they get money back and pay no taxes). the second lowest 20% pay -1.71% or -$621 (get money back , no pay in) the great middle 20% pay 4.29% of all taxes or $1743 taxes annual, the next top 20% pay 12.*% or $6285 annually taxes and the highest income 20% pay 86.9% of taxes or %0,176 annually. 45.3 of Americans pay no federal taxes at all so it is hard to give them a tax cut. Only in D.C. and Ca. would not increasing a budget be called a budget cut. It will only get better as now at least visitors know for sure Ca. is a sanctuary state that believes in the nullification of federal law .

        • I tried to bring morality into the tax bill. I said nothing about religion or doctrine or belief systems other than passing one moral judgment. How we as a nation deal with finances has a moral component. We are a wealthy enough country on the whole to pay for the needs of our most vulnerable citizens, but unlike most other industrialized western nations, we avoid doing so and worse, pass policies that increase the gap between rich and poor.

          California isn’t perfect, but the ideas and ideals driving its governance are far better for good governance than what happened in Kansas with massive tax cuts and fantasy trickle-down hoped for but never realized.

          • john barry says

            John, I am sorry that I thought you meant religious American churches when you alluded to them in your comments, you meant the non religious American churches. I also thought that your description on “white” evangelicals was based on their racial characteristic and evangelicals was describing their religious orientation. . If we are such a wealthy country why are we borrowing money from communist China and Japan? Can most average Americans afford to live in California that is becoming the state of the super wealthy , the working poor and the homeless who have been ceded many parts of San Fran that use to be a great city. So in California who pays the massive taxes to pay for all the social programs, only the rich? How does Ca. finance its government. Thanks for the reply, I do appreciate the feedback

            • Sorry. Did not mean to confuse. I meant white evangelical as a demographic description. The fact that the support numbers are reversed when you look at black evangelicals as a demographic tells me this was not about doctrine or faith. Something else is driving things here.

              As for US wealth, I suppose it’s relative. I grew up in a third world country. Believe me, American is wealthy on the whole and in most cases down to the individual level as well. That wealth isn’t always managed wisely for sure, but it’s there.

              • john barry says

                John , thanks for the reply. So if I used “brown Catholic” I would be using a demographic description that would not give you pause? Black evangelicals for years in all parts of the country are almost solidly Democrat in voting that it is a given in political circles. Would not the description conservative evangelical or liberal evangelical or liberal Catholic etc. be less divisive? Of course the USA wealth is relative, the USA has produced the highest standard of living for most of its citizens, the question is why? Mexico for example is as blessed with natural resources, farmland and bountiful land why is it not on par with the USA.? If you grew up in a third world country you should realize that our political system coupled with our capitalist system is the steam engine of American success . If you are a progressive than you are in fine shape, California is the blueprint for the future of America, the conservatives at best are mounting a rear guard action to delay the inevitable as society and culture changes. It will happen more rapidly and pronounced than past changes due to the technology now available. It will be a brave new world. Thanks for the reply and your perspective.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I know I’m looking at a $1-2000 tax hike from this bill, with the end of the State/Local Tax deductions.

      But the bill also Focuses on the Family(TM), hiking the marriage and child exemptions — guess if you married at 18 and have 20 kids and counting, you’re sitting on top of a gold mine! (I sense Christianese agenda on that one.)

  6. This year, I will be going out of my way to wish everyone Happy Holidays and Season’s Greeting, rather than Merry Christmas, as a small act of resistance to the culture war being waged by the POTUS from the White House. Non-Christians may properly assume that our President considers them cultural second-class citizens, and does not wish or intend to include them.

    • How low we have sunk. In the past all Democratic and Republican presidents have said Merry Christmas except Obama. It would only be inappropriate if we were not celebrating Christmas. Are Christians supposed to consider ourselves second class citizens when someone or some country celebrates Ramadan Robert, you. Ay want to start an apology tour for being Christian at Christmas.

      • I don’t apologize for being Christian, but I do apologize for all the Christians who think that they should have the right of cultural hegemony in this country. Many people non-Christians celebrate special religious and cultural observances at this time of year; I refuse to assume that everyone I meet on the street is Christian, and greet them as if they were. To do so is presumptuous, and insulting. If you want to be a good neighbor, don’t assume that everyone you meet is like you, or should be.

      • “Are Christians supposed to consider ourselves second class citizens”

        I seem to recall Paul telling us to primarily consider ourselves citizens of heaven before or citizenship in our earthly abode. And remember, not all Christian traditions held to celebrating Christmas as a holiday. The Putians even passed laws against it.

        • Puritans.

          • Yes. Now that was a real war against Christmas.

            • Adam Tauno Williams says

              I would **LOVE** to be rid of Christmas. Or move it. Holidays in the deep of winter are dumb. Move all the holidays to the middle of summer.

              And most importantly move them all to Friday or Thursday-Friday. No more holidays on Wednesday.

              • Brianthegrandad says

                Or you could move to Australia, New Zealand or Rio, and Xmas *would* be in the middle of summer. And, as a bonus, you’d have Easter in the fall, and your pastors wouldn’t feel they had to annually preach the parallels (Shazam! I’d never thought of that!) between the resurrection and the new birth of spring. Our Southern Hemisphere neighbors have for too long been robbed of all of our correct and proper Holiday(tm) celebrations and traditions.

                A co-worker and friend, raised in Brazil, tells that their Xmas tradition involved opening presents, then going surfing while enjoying mangoes from their tree and chilled coconut water direct from coconuts.

      • Stbndct.
        The place I live in, Lancaster County, PA, is a hotbed of white nationalism and racism. I confess that part of the reason (part of it) I will use non-religious specific substitute greetings for Merry Christmas among those I don’t know to be Christian, and those who don’t seem to have any particular commitment to Christianity, is that it will probably piss some of them off, the ones who like to fly their oversized Confederate flags from the oversized flatbeds of their oversized pick-up trucks. Hey, I’m only human.

      • I know you won’t believe NPR, but from their site “But a quick search of the Web and social media returns many examples of when Obama used the phrase “Merry Christmas.” In fact, in his weekly address on Christmas Eve 2016, literally the first words out of the former president’s mouth were: “Merry Christmas, everybody.””

        • Don’t confuse him with the facts.

          • +1

          • Robert, Thanks you for your snide and prompt reply. Very Christian of you. I am talking about the comment about not confusing me. All I did was express MY opinion that I say Merry Christmas because it’s Christmas. I knew you would get on your usual high horse and let me have it.

            • “All I did was express MY opinion that I say Merry Christmas because it’s Christmas. I knew you would get on your usual high horse and let me have it.”

              Gee… maybe because you insulted him?

              “Robert, you may want to start an apology tour for being Christian at Christmas.”

              If you don’t want to be treated like a troll, don’t act like one.

        • Adam Tauno Williams says

          > many examples of when Obama used the phrase “Merry Christmas.”

          Yep. #truth

          Interesting that so many people so very deeply concerned with precisely what the president did, or did not, say so very clearly never listened to him speak.

      • That Other Jean says

        What is this “. . .except Obama” nonsense? The Obamas themselves put together a compilation of all the times they have wished the American people “Merry Christmas,” in response to that criticism. I’m sure a link would put this comment into moderation, so I’ll just suggest you google for it.

    • I sympathize. I no longer use the word Christian to describe myself in many settings. I say this because I have at least two cases where people I meet in a business environment start the conversation this way
      “Are you a Christian?”
      Me: Yes
      Followed by a tirade about Mexicans being evil, guns being good, and Trump being God’s gift to a sinful nation.

      • Adam Tauno Williams says

        Same; it is something I just leave out. It is not being ashamed – it is that saying it has no use.

      • Burro [Mule] says

        Black Christians seem to have no problem with applying the label to themselves. They were the ones who pointed out to me that Obama was baptized, as an adult.

        Sometimes I wonder what they think about white Christians, but I’m kind of afraid to ask.

        I will continue to wish people a “Merry Christmas”, and a “Happy Hannukah”. or a joyous Diwali if indicated. It delights my gun-toting friends, and most of the opprobrium of the left has fallen on Baptisty-Pentacostaly thyoe Christians and I get a pass for being some kind of foreign Catholic.

        Cowardly, I know.

      • john barry says

        Robert, I apologize for all the Christians who would respond to your acknowledgment that you are a Christian with their political and social views. I am very fortunate that I have not met many that fit that description or that would be so bold as most Christians are reluctant to share any information about being a Christian. I personally get more raised ” as eyebrows when I share my faith by those who thought I was “enlightened” as someone just told me. One of the cat phrases that has passed is the Zombie God phrase that was to show the intellectual aloofness of those using a current social fad. We will see how Western Civilization does without Christianity as its base

        • “We will see how Western Civilization does without Christianity as its base”

          Remember… The Roman Empire didn’t fall until AFTER it became “Christian”.

        • Burro [Mule] says

          Some unrelated thoughts:

          1) The Western Empire fell. The Eastern staggered on for another thousand years. The pagans were already blaming the Church for the fall of Rome, and Augustine’s City of God was the reply.

          2) Anyone who expects a post-Christian to be merciful is whistling in the dark. Through a minefield. Strafed by machine guns. At first, the demons on the left and on the right will be happy to include the Christian fellowtravellers. From what I read on Daily Kos, some precincts of Democratic Underground, My Posting Career, and /pol, I don’t expect that to last once the knives come out.

          3) I can’t imagine RobertF lurking on 4chan, Chateau Heartiste, or My Posting Career, but anyone looking for straight, no-chaser alt-right fascism could start there. I’m mostly fond of the de-centralizers, monarchists, and Catholic traditionalists at, but boy are the Odinists giving them a hard time.

          • I didn’t intend to oversimplify Roman history, but to point out how useless the concept of “Christian civilization” is. All civilizations rise and fall. Byzantium had it’s reckoning just as Rome did. Just as Washington will.

            • Burro [Mule] says

              I will have to disagree on the idea of “Christian civilization”. It is a useful concept.

              Sorry, but is real. I agree with Francis Schaeffer here far more than is currently fashionable. Anybody who disagrees is, I believe, willfully blind.

              All you need to do is to cross from Morocco to Spain in Ceuta. You can feel it.

              • What, exactly, do you feel?

                • Burro [Mule] says

                  When I crossed, what I felt was a lifting of depression, of a stifling feeling of being watched. A sense that I wasn’t being told the truth by anybody I talked to. That and being approached and offered goods and services of a questionable nature several times a day, for reasons still unclear to me, that felt like a continual test of my resolve.

                  The static in my head went down considerably. It is very tempting to believe in the truth of Islam in Morocco, because everyone assumes it. I had to consciously adore my Triune God, and prayer was exceptionally difficult.

                  What? Did you really think there wouldn’t be any difference?

                  • john barry says

                    Burro, I like your description, it rings true to me as I have crossed from West Berlin into East Berlin back in the old cold war era. More than anything I felt the absence of joy compared to the west , nothing concrete but a real “feeling”. I never heard it stated the way you did traveling from one culture to another.

                  • Mule, I have that same sense of “lifting” when I cross the border into Canada…

                    • john barry says

                      Tom, that is the beauty of living in the USA or Canada, you can legally cross the border and legally apply to in either country if you want to legally live there. Just like the N. Korean that just got shot the East Germans were killed if they left. The Muslims in Morocco could not publicly leave their Islamic religion. I too have a feeling of oppression, have no voice in decisions and am given menial jobs in other words have been married quite a while. What happened to all the celebs who were going to move to Canada when Trump won and again why does no one ever threatened to move to our neighbor to the south Mexico.

                • Eeyore,

                  when I was studying in Germany in college (1976-77), during the semester break I took a swing through northern Yugoslavia, western Romania and Budapest. I’m an old folk dancer and wanted to see something of the places where arose the dance culture I loved, and maybe hear some music, even though it was the dead of winter. (I did.)

                  Those are all historically Christian countries, but in those days Communism sat like a wet black blanket over all the beauty of those lands and their people. It couldn’t obscure it entirely, but there was certainly a dimness, more oppressive in Romania, especially in the countryside, than the other two countries. I got the sense that the Serbs were putting up with Tito and biding their time until they could fight, and the Hungarians quietly (or not so much, depending on who one talked to) were looking down their noses at the Communist rabble. Something definitely changed when I crossed the border into Yugoslavia and again at the other end of the journey when I crossed into Austria.


                  • Dana, i wss innorthern Germany in summer 1977 and felt a very oppressive atmosphere due to…. well, the War. The Holocaust. Nobody referred to either, there were places fenced off due to unexploded ordnance. The War and its causes + the Holocaust weren’t really being taught in E. Germsn schools at that time.

                    Now… i thought a lot of my hosts and of the other university students i met. I’m German myself, mostly. I liked W. Germany, but i felt flattened, emotionally and spiritually, by the very heavy atmosphere in that small part of the north.

                    Fwiw. I don’t doubt you one iota about the oppression in the Soviet Bloc countries you visited, either.

          • I guess that, surprising even myself, I’m inclined to agree with you, Mule, that the ideologies of both the left and right, when followed to their logical conclusions, end in places where mercy becomes impossible. On the right, the iron laws of nature and folk make recognition of the full humanity of the outsider impossible, and so mercy is understood to be only weakness; on the left, the utopian dream ultimately means that even the most horrific means is tolerable to reach the hoped for ends, and the failure to accept that is thought to arise from a foolishness against which mercy is useless, and that can only be extirpated by revolutionary violence.

  7. And in this week’s edition of jumping-the-shark, Dr. Dobson un-apologetically endorses Roy Moore as a “man of proven character and integrity”.

    • I don’t watch Jimmy Kimmel, but the Twitter war he had with Moore over the last couple of days gave me a lift. He schooled Moore on several counts, including that Alabama style fundamentalism is not the be-all and end-all of Christianity.

      But I confess I especially liked the jibes about Moore’s “little pistol” and “little leather vest”.

      • john barry says

        Robert F. The more I see of the current late night talk show host the more I realize how great Johnny Carson was.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > Dr. Dobson un-apologetically endorses

      Did Dr. Dobson ever do anything apologetically?
      My goodness, he takes credit for their not being a global crisis on Janruary 1st, 2000.
      He is a wind-bag of the first order.

    • Brianthegrandad says

      Yes, and unfortunately I’ve had to hear it several times, living here in Alabama. My favorite part is when he says ‘God gave America another chance with the election of Donald J. Trump. But he now needs the presence and leadership of Judge Roy Moore to make America great again’. I’m presuming his ‘he’ in the second sentence refers to DJT and not God.

      • God…DJT. Is there a difference in the minds of “religious” conservatives?

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        “I give Donald Trump praise and adoration.”
        — ChapmanEd over in the Wondering Eagle comment threads (with lotsa Verses to back it up)

        “Who is like unto The Trump? Who can stand against him?”
        — paraphrase of Rev 9:14

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        My favorite part is when he says ‘God gave America another chance with the election of Donald J. Trump. But he now needs the presence and leadership of Judge Roy Moore to make America great again. I’m presuming his ‘he’ in the second sentence refers to DJT and not God..

        The Beast needs or has found his False Prophet?

    • He’s a Dominionist. Nothing he does is surprising. I’m at my Whit’s End for figuring out how he normalized his views and trained up a generation to think like him. It’s a surprisingly effective tactic, maybe Gothard would still be around if he had started by owning the entire generational vertical while building a horizontal empire.

    • That Other Jean says

      James Dobson? The guy who wrote triumphantly about having an epic battle with his dog–an elderly, twelve pound davhdhund–forcing him, with a belt–to sleep in a cold room in his bed, instead of the warmer bathroom, where Dobson’s wife had been letting him sleep while Dobson was away? How would he recognize a man of character and integrity?

      • That Other Jean says

        Dachshund. Dachshund, blast it. I fat-fingered that one, twice.

      • Patriciamc says

        Yep. He thought the dog wasn’t being obedient enough, so he locked him in the bathroom and beat him with a belt – and Dobson himself noted this in a one of his books! The man belongs in jail!

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      And in this week’s edition of jumping-the-shark, Dr. Dobson un-apologetically endorses Roy Moore as a “man of proven character and integrity”.

      In today’s newsfeeds, that “man of proven character and integrity” is channeling Douggie Wilson regarding a certain Peculiar Institution(TM):

  8. When I was in high school, I used to wonder, if everyone’s so upset about how complicated and expensive it is to do taxes, why is it so hard to simplify and reform? After working for over 25 years with various not-for-profits, I have come to realize that we actually like it this way. The statement above from the foundations and NPs bears this out.

    Government has two tools at its disposal to coerce behavior from citizens: law and taxation. Law cannot force you to do good things, it can only dissuade you from doing bad things via criminalization. Taxation, and the avoidance thereof, is the tool of choice for shaping society. Unfortunately, if you simplify the tax code, you will reduce the ability of politicians to encourage the behavior they want from us.

    So when someone tells you they want to close the loopholes and tax breaks that help the rich avoid paying their fare share, realize that those aren’t bugs in the system: those are features. In my case, corporations purchase tax credits that support the work of not-for-profits.

    Whether you call them bugs, or features, recognize that the foundations are saying there are too many people invested in the status quo to make reform worthwhile.

    On a related note: during the time of Occupy Wall Street, our state was running ads on the radio encouraging everyone to invest in tax-free state bonds. $25 million in bonds would give you an annual income of $1 million tax-free. If you do that, are you the evil 1% not paying your fair share? Or are you an angel for investing in state infrastruture?

    We love having it both ways.

    • Nothing in life is purely black-and-white, and nothing in life is free.

      • I heard a song this morning on the radio, a little bit country:

        Call the Smithsonian,
        I’ve made a discovery.
        Life ain’t forever
        And lunch isn’t free.

        We’re never going to simplify taxes down to a form the size of a post card. Or, rather, we have it now but only if you live with your parents and your only income is reported for you on a W-2 that you can use to fill out the 1040EZ. Once real life hits, the businesses, mortgages, capital gains/losses throw a wrench into that idea. I would not want to boil my forms down to one page at this point, being happy to let my accountant use 90 pages if he will, and find me all the deductions.

        I’m suspicious of the increase in the Standard Deduction. I think small donors to charities, homeowners with small mortgages, and sole proprietors of small businesses are going to lose.

    • john barry says

      Tax Man Tax Man
      Don’t Tax Me
      Tax that Man Behind the Tree

      We all want tax reform if we benefit from the reform.

  9. Susan Dumbrell says


    Listen to you health advisor.
    We need to haiku long into the future.
    We have a reputation as 1st (and maybe 2nd?) haiku contributors,
    to give a somewhat slanted and maybe obscure twist to those angels dancing on heads of pins??

    Happy Advent? is this OK?


  10. you can only hope
    that tomorrow’s supermoon
    will be worth the wait