The Pope and Kim Davis Sittin’ in a Tree . . .

APReutersSo lunatic bigot Kim Davis, she of the weekend jailing and teary and breathless public breakdown (oh, the little sacrifices we must make to preserve narrow minded discrimination in the age of who-gives-a-shit enlightenment), had an audience with the Pope.

In case you forgot, Kim Davis is not Catholic.  She’s Protestant.  An Apostlic Pentacostal Christian to be exact.  If you’re curious, it’s a view of Christianity that places one’s personal experience with God at the forefront, and believes that people of deep faith receive miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit and occasionally display their faith with fun stuff like speaking in tongues.

In other words, theologically speaking, it’s about as different as you can get from Roman Catholicism while still being Christian.  You know, the kind of divide that precipitated brutal religious wars no that long ago.

Catholicism, after all, is pretty strict in maintaining that salvation cannot be had solely through a personal relationship with God.  Rather, you need an interlocutor sanctioned by the Church.  That is, a priest who can take your confessions and grant you various blessings.

Man in the collar’s got a hot line to Jesus that you can’t access without his help.

In a strict Catholic interpretation, Kim Davis is likely going to Hell.  In a loosey goosey Apostlic Pentacostal interpretation, Old Papa Francis just might be the goddamned anti-Christ.

Of course the Devil is, as they say, in the details.

But why then?  Why did the leader of the Catholic Church meet with this Holy Roller?  Read more »

In Memoriam: Yogi Berra

As a boy of 8 and 9 and 10, growing up in the Bronx, I was a big New York Yankees fan.  When you grow up in the Bronx, that’s really all there is to brag about.  A zoo and the Yankees.

Nearly every game aired on channel 11 WPIX, and I watched as many as I could, which was nearly all of them.

The Yankees are by far the most successful team in the history of American sports.  Not even close.  They’re probably the most successful team in the world.  For this reason, rooting for the Yankees has often been equated with rooting for a large, wealthy corporation like IBM or GM.  I’ve always thought it’s a very poor analogy.

Rooting for the Yankees is actually like rooting for the United States.  Each in their own way, the Yankees and United States are the 300 lb. gorilla, that most powerful of entities winning far more than anyone else.  Their wealth creates many advantages.  Supporters expect them to win, and they usually do.  Opponents absolutely revel in their defeats.

All that success means you will be adored by some non-natives who are tired of losing and want to bask in your glory, even if it must be from afar.  But mostly you are hated.  Anywhere you go in America, some people love the Yankees and many more hate them.  Just like the United States is either loved or hated everywhere else in the world.

Who hates IBM? Read more »

Is the Syrian Refugee Crisis the Worst Since WWII?

refugeesThere’s a new meme infecting the internet.

The Syrian refugee crisis is the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

It’s all over the place.  Just google the words “worst refugee crisis.”  Don’t even put “Syria” or “WWII” in the search bar.  What follows is a string of mainstream media articles labeling the current Syrian refugee crisis as the worst since the big deuce.  It has become conventional wisdom.

But is the flood of humanity currently vacating Syria really the worst refugee crisis of the last 70 years? Read more »

Is Kim Davis Mentally Ill?

I think Kim Davis is mentally ill.  I say this not because she believes in god (I’m an atheist) or because I disagree with her politics on almost every conceivable level, ranging from the philosophical to the mechanical.

I think Kim Davis is mentally because I watched this video.



I realize Davis has been through a lot, all of it of her own making.  Nonetheless, to me this looks like someone who’s brain is short circuiting.  She’s not right in the head.  My amateur guess is bi-polar on a runaway manic streak.

It’s not the first time I’ve speculated about the mental illness of a public figure.  I once wrote a piece entitled I Suspect Anthony Weiner is Mentally Ill.

But Weiner was a famous, wealthy, powerful scumbag.  Fair game. Read more »

Watch the Wheels Come Off the Wagon of Southern Rock

The Outlaw.You’ve been an on-again, off-again working band for a decade.  During that period, there have been numerous breakups and seemingly endless lineup changes.  After years of grinding and uncertainty, you finally hit it big in 1975.  You get signed to a major label.  Your eponymous, debut album goes gold.  You’ve been assigned to a niche, what people are now calling Southern Rock, a genre that your band pre-dates.  You have a single that does okay.  You have a nickname; the lineup changes that somehow led you to a trio of guitarists has now been dubbed the “Florida Guitar Army.”  And you have an opus.  The last song on your album is worthy of your niche predecessors, the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd.  It’s over 9 minutes of kick ass, balls to the wall rock n roll.

Then it all starts to wobble. Read more »

The Donald is Coming! The Donald is Coming!

REUTERS/Dominick ReuterI’ve lost track already.  During the past month, too many people to keep count of, each with a look of bemused panic in their eye, has asked me if I think Donald Trump has a chance.  Knocked back on their heels by the frenzy surrounding Trump’s recent surge, they implore me to tell them what I think.

Is it possible that this crude, bombastic display of runaway hair known as The Donald will actually succeed Barack Obama in the White House?

Alas, it’s hard to blame these worry warts.  Of late, the press marvels at Trump’s soaring poll numbers, and ruminates endlessly on his success in spite his obvious shortcomings and endless string of outrages, and wonders what that success says about American society and its broken political system.

From NPR to Ezra Klein, there’s no shortage of media mavens trumpeting Trump and theorizing what his success means.  Everyone seems to have an opinion.  Or if they don’t, they’re desperate to find one.  Confused by it all, The Atlantic went so far as to simply ask people why, oh why, do you support this man?  Then, sans analysis, the magazine simply threw up its hands and published the responses.

Why, oh why indeed.  Why is this barbarian at the gate?  Why is this roaring, fatuous pig of a man on the verge of undressing our republic and claiming its highest office?

In looking for an answer, I believe we should not dig too deep.  After all, Donald Trump doesn’t seem to over think much, so we probably shouldn’t over think him.

Admittedly, that’s a bit glib.  But if you’ve followed The Donald’s career, it’s hard to come away with any other conclusion than what you see is what you get.

And what I see right now is the same thing I always see when I look at Donald Trump: a garish, abusive, womanizing snake oil salesman.  A huckster pushing his product.

It just so happens that Donald Trump’s flagship product is Donald Trump. Read more »

Donald Trump and Heidi Klum Probably Deserve Each Other Right Now

Donald TrumpThere’s obviously no end to the list of dumb things Donald Trump is capable of saying.  He’s an endless wellspring of arrogance and stupidity.  And given some of the bumbling insanity that has issued forth from his mouth of late, his latest verbal turd seems hardly worth mentioning, much less discussing.  But alas . . . Read more »

Eating Iceland

I am recently returned from Iceland, the land waddling puffins, roaring volcanoes, and horses that look like Justin Bieber.

It was my first time visiting, and before arriving, I didn’t know much about this nearly arctic island other than some vagaries about vikings and banking scandals.  So I had very little in the way of preconceived notions about the cuisine, and didn’t expect anything in particular.

It turns out the food was quite good.  There’s lots of soup, and I’m a whore for soup, so that was a good match.  Also tons of seafood, which is another favorite of mine, although it doesn’t quite drive me to walk the streets with a handkerchief dangling behind my shoulder. Read more »

Burning My Confederate Flag

1967 Summer of Love WardrobeTo be born in America in 1967 is, to some degree, to fall through the cracks.

The Baby Boom was most certainly over by then, its most senior elements old enough to vote and drink.  But the Millennials, now the focus of every drooling advertising executive and marketing guru, were naught but twinkles in the eyes of their Boomer sires and dames.

Bookmarked between bigger generations, being born in the late 1960s and early 1970s meant you were conceived and suckled amid the tumult of the Civil Rights and Vietnam protests; in (cloth) diapers when the moon landing occurred; discovering kindergarten as President Richard Nixon’s Plumbers were bumbling the Watergate break-in; and learning to read when the final U.S. helicopters evacuated Saigon.

To be born in 1967 means that when the late 1960s and early 1970s were becoming iconic, you were there, but you weren’t.  You didn’t get to partake in the Summer of Love.  You’re what it spit out. Read more »

Baltimore’s May Murders

murderAs has been widely reported, May was an exceptionally violent month here in Baltimore.  The city has witnessed dozens shootings and 42 murders.  That is the most murders in any one month since 1990.

Such a spate of violence is certainly worth reporting, and the national media has been quick to pick up on it.  However, many media outlets are also drawing lazy connections to the riot and protests that took place several weeks back.

The typical analysis, whether implied or explicit, goes something like this.

There was a riot in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray from injuries sustained while in police custody.  The riot amplified already troubled relations between Baltimore’s African American community and its police force.  The police, unhappy about the indictment of six officers in the Gray case, are staging a work slowdown.  The result is tremendous violence across the city.

This brand of analysis is not factually wrong. Some of those statements may be a bit vague, but they’re wrong in and of themselves.  However, when those those facts are strung together in this manner, the narrative they produce is just a bit too facile to offer a penetrating explanation for recent upswing in violence.

The problem with such an analysis is that it’s:
A) Too focused on the present and fails to account for historical forces, and;
B) Too narrow in the way it corrals all the immediate factors but fails to make room for larger structural forces Read more »

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