Wednesday, January 31, 2018

JANUARY 2018 IGNOMINIOUS ABSURDITY AWARD: THE IGGY

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1.  Trump spokesperson Kellyann Conway.  Conway continues to be a factory for a mind-boggling combination of ridiculous nonsense and terrifying nonsense. Donald Trump’s leading non-Ivanka woman continues to assail the media for harping on her reference to blatant lies as “alternative facts”—gosh, why would that draw notice, especially when it’s such a perfect statement of how your boss plans to govern? Conway launched into a rant about how media figures who criticized Trump should be fired:

“Not one network person has been let go. Not one silly political analyst and pundit who talked smack all day long about Donald Trump has been let go. They are on panels every Sunday. They’re on cable news every day.”

Yeah, funny, being critical of a political candidate—even of the president—is not a firing offense in a country with a free press. Which the United States still technically is, though apparently not for long if the Trump team gets their way. Conway and the rest of the fabricators really think people should be fired for having insulted the man in the tackily gilded tower. She went on:

“Who’s the first editorial -- the first blogger that will be left out that embarrassed his or her outlet? We know all their names. I’m too polite to call them by name. But they know who they are, and they’re all wondering, will I be the first to go? The election was three months ago. None of them have been let go.”

There are lots of reasons to fire lots of cable pundits, but pointing out what Donald Trump is? Not one of them. Then maybe, just maybe, Conway realized she’d gone a little too far and tried to sound righteous. All of this, by the way, is part of one epic rant, not responses to a series of different questions:

“And yet we deal with him every single day. We turn the other cheek. If you are part of team Trump, you walk around with these gaping, seeping wounds every single day, and that's fine. I believe in a full and fair press.  I’m here every Sunday morning. I haven't slept in a month. I believe in a full and fair press.”

Notice she doesn’t say she believes in a free press, but a “full and fair” one, whatever that means. Fair to Trump, as Trump sees it? But mostly, here’s a statement that requires more than the world’s tiniest violin. We need the world’s tiniest symphony playing a requiem for poor Kellyanne and her gaping, seeping wounds and lack of sleep.

The amount of whining and weakness here is astonishing. If you are part of team Trump, you are participating in keeping people out of the country on the basis of their religion (and failure to come from a country where Donald Trump does business), you are working to strip health insurance from tens of millions of people, you are supporting a sick tax scam, you are pushing white supremacy and misogyny and bigotry … but let’s talk about your gaping, seeping wounds from some cable pundits saying mean things about your boss, in an election in which CNN specifically hired pro-Trump pundits to wax adulatory about everything he said and did.

This is pathetic. Except that the threat to the country that this mindset represents can’t be underestimated.

2. U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute. In a report titled At Our Own Peril: DoD Risk Assessment in a Post-Primacy World, the institute, while acknowledging that the U.S. was no longer the “lone superpower,” once again drew on our time-dishonored failed approach to confront this new world. What we need, of course, is more, … more of everything: more funding, more lethal weapons, more trained troops, more surveillance capabilities, and more autonomy for our military forces to allow for “maximum freedom of action.” In astonishing display of cognitive amnesia, the report recommended:

“While as a rule, U.S. leaders of both political parties have consistently committed to the maintenance of U.S. military superiority over all potential rivals, the post-primacy reality demands a wider and more flexible military force that can generate advantage and options across the broadest possible range of military demands. To U.S. political leadership, maintenance on military advantage preserves maximum freedom of action… Finally, it allows U.S. decision makers the opportunity to dictate or hold significant sway over outcomes in international disputes in the shadow of significant U.S. military capability and the implied promise of unacceptable consequences in the event that capability is unleashed.

Do you think anyone at the War College thought to ask how upping our military strength and freedom of action has worked out over the last several decades? They should have asked people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Niger, Nigeria, and displaced people in many of the other 140+ countries where U.S. ground troops (increasingly Special Operation forces) have been either directly or indirectly engaged in combat how “more” from the US military has worked out for them. According to the Costs of War Project, the US counter-terrorism war now involves 76 countries, or 39% of the world’s countries. How has “more” worked out in this fight?

3. Televangelist and Prosperity Preacher Paula White. White wants her followers to start 2018 on the right foot. How? By giving her a big chunk of their hard-earned money, of course. As chairwoman of Trump’s evangelical advisory committee, White says the money is for God, of course. By starting off the year by giving your paycheck to her “God,” the donor is making an investment for a good year. The people who can’t offer money to White won’t be as lucky. HuffPost explains:

Those who don’t pay up could face “consequences” from God as he demands the dough as a “first fruits” offering.

“The reason is God lays claim to all firsts,” White wrote on her website. “So when you keep for yourself something that belongs to God you are desecrating what is to be consecrated to God.” In this case, the “firsts” are money, which “supernaturally unlocks amazing opportunity, blessing, favor and divine order for your life.”

If the idea of a God only providing good things to people who donate money to wealthy televangelists sounds sick, you’re not alone. It’s a particularly exploitative tactic that other Christians have made note of. Experts on Christianity at Got Questions Ministries told the Christian Post that in spite of White implying that a donation is required for God’s blessings, her reasoning is inaccurate.

While some preachers today use the concept to encourage their parishioners to give an offering above and beyond tithing, the Bible does not support it as a requirement for Christians.

"The problem is, the first fruits offering was for the Jews for a specific purpose. Nowhere does the New Testament mention that the church is required or even encouraged to give a 'first fruits offering.' Like tithing, giving to the church is left up to the personal convictions of the individual believer. There is no blanket policy for giving," the group explains.

Of course, White and her ministry wouldn’t want her followers to know that. She’s not exactly hurting for money; numerous websites list her net worth at $5 million.

4. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The centers will present a workshop titled “Public Health Response to a Nuclear Detonation,” for doctors, government officials, emergency responders and others whom, if they survived, would be responsible for overseeing the emergency response to a nuclear attack. The CDC went on to say:

“Join us for this session of Grand Rounds to learn what public health programs have done on a federal, state, and local level to prepare for a nuclear detonation are similar and different from other emergency response planning efforts.”

I’m not saying the CDC is ignominious for preparing for a nuclear detonation. What is ignominious, however, is what prompted the CDC action: the Trump Administration habit of inflaming tensions with nuclear-capable countries by boasting of our “big weapons” (e.g., to Kim Jong Un: “ I too have a nuclear button, but it is much bigger and more powerful one than his, and my Button works”) that the president won’t hesitate to use, now, not just in response to a nuclear attack (the logic of deterrence), but against non-nuclear threats as well (like cyber, chemical and biological weapons attacks. Trump’s nuclear modernization program will accelerate the pace of development of small, low yield, precisely accurate nukes that it proudly announces are “more usable.” Of course, as any school child can tell you, the more you make nuclear weapons usable, the more likely they will in fact be used (duh!), and the more likely nuclear escalation will occur. This is reckless idiocy, ignominious to the core.

I suppose the next step will be to mandate “duck and cover” drills in public schools—that is, those that still exist. Good to know we’re back in the 1950s. Get your fallout shelter ASAP.

Many years ago, I found the best information on how to prepare for a nuclear detonation on my junior high school bathroom stall. It read: In the event of a nuclear bomb explosion, get under your desk, put your head between your legs and kiss your asshole goodbye. That just about says it all.

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And the winner is:

I'm giving the January award to the U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute.  Continuing more of the same in the face of repeated failure is not just ignorant, it’s downright ignominious.



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