Thursday Morning Open Thread: Speaking Up for Truth

Per the Washington Post:

Donald Trump was cut off, chastised and then heckled after he attacked rival Hillary Clinton during what was supposed to be a speech on helping where the government had failed the people of Flint, Michigan.

“Mr. Trump, I invited you here to thank us for what we’ve done in Flint, not give a political speech,” said the Rev. Faith Green Timmons, the pastor of the Bethel United Methodist Church.

The Republican nominee quickly stopped, then said “Ok, that’s good, Then I’m going to go back to Flint” and its water crisis that had sickened its citizens.

But the interruption seemed to embolden those in the sparse crowd. One woman shouted that Trump had used discriminatory housing practices in his buildings, causing the celebrity businessman to respond, “Never, you’re wrong. Never would.”

Trump abruptly ended his speech, which had lasted six minutes. More heckling followed him out…

Trump visited the traditionally African American church in the impoverished city to pay tribute to the city’s resiliency. But then, he attacked Clinton, saying “everything she touched didn’t work out.” Timmons then stepped up and interrupted him…


Apart from calling out the liars, what’s on the agenda for the day?

Sad Dregs Open Thread: The GOP ‘Values Voters’ Meet the Alt-Right

Happenings that got overlooked when more important news broke over the weekend… Even four years ago, the Talibangelical “Values Voters” could credibly assure each other they were on the cusp of another Great Awakening. But this year, there’s a cuckoo in the conservative nest. Ed Kilgore, at NYMag:

The relationship between the Republican Party and its most important constituency group, the Christian Right, has often been compared to a marriage of convenience that does not involve a lot of mutual respect or trust.

As a couple of thousand Christian Right activists gathered in Washington for the Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit this weekend, it was more obvious than ever that the GOP is straining the loyalties of the faithful. The star attraction, Donald Trump, was, after all, the fifth-place finisher in the presidential straw poll at last September’s VVS.

But like a long-suffering spouse, the Christian Right is sticking with Donald Trump as we head toward Election Day because he is convincingly the enemy of its enemies and is willing to make a few key gestures in the direction of the righteous, albeit in a clumsy and offhand way.

None of the Christian conservative leaders who have made opposition to Trump (e.g., Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention) a matter of conscience were allowed near the podium of the VVS. Still, much anxious rhetoric was aimed at those who are thinking about voting third or fifth party or staying home. Former representative Michele Bachmann characteristically used the most extreme words possible to condemn that temptation, comparing the election to the choice God gave the Hebrews in presenting his covenant with them: “I have set before you life and death. Which will you choose?”…

Nor could The Great Orange Fraud deliver a credible performance of giving a good God-damn, per troublemaking Mormon Buzzfeed reporter McKay Coppins:

Donald Trump dutifully trundled onto the stage at Washington’s Omni Shoreham hotel Friday afternoon to attend to one of his dreariest campaign-trail chores: courting conservative Christians.

“There are no more decent voters or selfless people than our Christian brothers and sisters here in the United States,” Trump read aloud to the audience gathered for the 2016 Values Voter Summit. “I’ve witnessed that incredible generosity all across this land.”

Trump continued like this for the first few minutes of his speech — plodding through prepared remarks as they crawled across a teleprompter screen — but he seemed quickly to grow bored. Before long, he was wandering off-script for several minutes at a time, as though in search for something more fun to talk about.

At one point, after indulging in a lengthy tangent about his recent meeting with a cohort of admiring clergy (“It was a love fest!”), Trump suggested the country was becoming less religious because faith leaders were no longer allowed to endorse political candidates from the pulpit (lest their churches lose tax-exempt status). The candidate’s pledge to change this law and un-muzzle America’s pastors has been a key element of his pitch to social conservatives, one of the few concrete offerings he’s made to them. But even here, he struggled to focus…

Mr. Charles P. Pierce, at Esquire, on the people who chose to be there:

Here’s the roster of speakers at the VVS. You will see people who ran for president. You will see the chairman of the Republican National Committee. You will see some of your favorite star pundits, many of whom are welcome to appear on cable news programs for the purposes of “balance.” You will see many of you favorite star nutballs. And you will see the Republican nominee for President of the United States, who went before this designated hate group and pretended he’s read a Bible any time in his life.
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What Has Been Will Be Again, What Has Been Done Will Be Done Again

Or to finish the quote from Kohelet/Ecclesiastes: “There is nothing new under the sun…”

In the 19th Century the US was gripped with one of it cyclical bouts of nativism, anti-immigrant xenophobia, and anti-minority religious extremism. Just as a frenzy was whipped up about the Ground Zero Mosque, which was actually a Muslim Community Center with a prayer chapel (akin to a Jewish Community Center), and around the building of mosques or the setting aside of land for Muslim cemeteries post 9-11, so too was a frenzy whipped up in the 19th Century around the building of Catholic churches. And just as we are currently seeing a frenzied anti-immigrant xenophobia around Latino and Hispanic immigrants – and lets be honest, its ultimately not going to matter if they’re legal or undocumented, so too did we see a 19th Century analog against Irish and Chinese immigrants, as well as others depending on the part of the US. As we are currently seeing a hard hearted focus to deny sanctuary to refugees fleeing war in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria – including those who served as translators/interpreters for US and Coalition Forces and we owe a debt to provide them safe haven, so too did we see a similar hard hearted response to Jews in the 1930s and 1940s fleeing the rising and then consolidating tyranny of the NAZIs. And all too often it is the descendants of the early targets of discrimination that have chosen to lead the contemporary efforts of intolerance, nativism, and xenophobia.


(St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York)

In the mid 19th Century there was tremendous opposition to the building of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, as well as Catholic churches in other parts of the US.

At the Church of the Disciples of Christ on 28th Street near Broadway, the Rev. Joseph Bradford Cleaver spoke under the title “Crucifix Smiting the Cross; or shall the Papacy govern New York City?” He was among those who saw the opening of the magnificent new St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan the previous year as a dangerous sign of Catholic power and warned that Cardinal John McCloskey, who was “enthroned” there, would rule America as the pope’s viceroy and bring on a new Inquisition if Grace were elected mayor.

The church where the Knights of Columbus was founded was similarly denigrated. The New York Times at the time reported on the construction of St. Mary’s in the following manner:


(St. Mary’s Church, New Haven)

“An Unprofitable Church: Roman Catholic Troubles in New-Haven.” The church on one of New Haven’s finest residential streets had been dedicated five years earlier, but only after a struggle in which the pastor was pressured to accept an alternate site.As The Times put it, “When the residents of this aristocratic avenue discovered that they were in danger of seeing a Roman Catholic church spring up among them, with all that the establishment of such a church implied, they bestirred themselves to oppose the project. The wisest of the Roman Catholics here did not favor it, and St. Mary’s was induced to exchange the lot for a good one in some other locality.” But that site was also deemed “too good” for Catholics, so a lesser lot was found. The pastor refused this, according to The Times, and built the church as originally planned on wealthy Hillhouse Avenue. According to the Times, the parish fell into debt (its parishioners being mainly “servant girls”). “The result shows how foolish were those who persisted in building the church on the spot where it stands,” The Times concluded. “How much spite had to do with it cannot now be ascertained, but the complete history of the negotiations would be very interesting. The edifice was erected beyond the boundaries of the parish, and it invaded the most exclusive homes of wealth and culture. It is an eye-sore on the avenue, a source of annoyance and injury to neighboring residents, and a complete failure as a business enterprise.”

This isn’t all that different than what we heard and saw in the opposition to the Park Avenue Islamic Center aka The Ground Zero Mosque.


(Ground Zero Mosque Protestors, New York)

The protestors had been whipped into a froth by the uninformed, but politically very profitable fear mongering of a few self appointed, but largely ignorant, arbiters of what was and was not acceptable in regards to Islam. For instance:

We also saw anti-immigrant imagery that rivals any of the modern anti-undocumented immigrant language we are currently observing. Here are just two examples:


(Anti-Chinese Graphic from The Wasp Magazine, San Francisco)


(Anti-Immigrant Statement of Principles from The Patriot, Boston)

Similarly Senator Taft sent the following letter to the Jewish War Veterans of the United States indicating his opposition to resettling 20,000 Jewish German children in the US in excess of the immigration quotas of the time.


(Letter from Senator Taft to Mr. Tarlish, Jewish War Veterans, 1939)

Senator Taft’s position on accepting Jewish German children to save them from the NAZIs and the reasons for it are not too far off from Governor Mike Pence’s in refusing to accept Syrian Civil War refugees fleeing the Islamic State:

Governor Pence Suspends Resettlement of Syrian Refugees in Indiana

Start Date: 11/16/2015 Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 11/16/2015
Entry Description
Indianapolis – Following reports that a Syrian refugee was among the perpetrators of the terrorists attacks that took place in Paris on Friday, Governor Mike Pence issued the following statement:“In the wake of the horrific attacks in Paris, effective immediately, I am directing all state agencies to suspend the resettlement of additional Syrian refugees in the state of Indiana pending assurances from the federal government that proper security measures have been achieved. Indiana has a long tradition of opening our arms and homes to refugees from around the world but, as governor, my first responsibility is to ensure the safety and security of all Hoosiers. Unless and until the state of Indiana receives assurances that proper security measures are in place, this policy will remain in full force and effect.”The Refugee Resettlement Office in the Division of Family Resources in the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) administers the Syrian resettlement program.###
Location Information:

 And Governor Pence is only one among 27 governors, all Republicans, that told the Obama Administration they would not accept Syrian Civil War refugees. This is also the position of the Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.

“Our nation has always been welcoming. But we cannot let terrorists take advantage of our compassion. This is a moment where it’s better to be safe than to be sorry.”

What we are seeing in Election 2016 is not something new in the United States. Just as there are economic cycles and crime cycles and religiosity cycles, there also seems to be extremism, nativism, and nationalism cycles within US society too. All of this has happened before and it will, most likely happen again.

What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun. – Kohelet/Ecclesiastes 1:9


Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite! Liberte and Egalite Have Won Edition


(Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People)

France’s highest administrative court, The State Council/Council de Etat, overturned the local burkini bans that had popped up in French beach towns over the past several weeks. The panel of three senior judges ruled that the ban:

“has dealt a serious and clearly illegal blow to fundamental liberties such as the freedom of movement, freedom of conscience and personal liberty.”

They found that no evidence produced in favour of the prohibition proved a risk to public order was being caused by “the outfits worn by some people to go swimming”.

 There will, of course, be pushback. The Mayor of Villeneuve-Loubet, who is also a member of France’s parliament, has indicated that he will push legislation in the next session to address the issue. Municipal authorities in Nice, Frejus, and Sisco have already stated that they will keep the ban in place despite the ruling. We will now have to wait and see how the different levels of French government, and the French themselves, reconcile themselves to the Council de Etat’s ruling.

Timekiller Open Thread: Trump/Pence None the Richer

This VP-announcement thing, it’s golden. Everybody wants a piece of it. No way is He, Trump gonna waste his big all-networks announcement if there’s any chance it will be preempted by “breaking news” from some place that is not even America. You media people can just suck on it…

Signals! The NYTimes:

Donald J. Trump’s campaign has signaled strongly to Republicans in Washington that he will pick Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, as his running mate, though Republicans caution the party’s mercurial presidential candidate may still backtrack on his apparent choice.

Mr. Trump’s advisers have told national Republican officials that they are preparing to make an announcement with Mr. Pence, according to three people with knowledge of the conversations, who were not authorized to discuss them publicly. His campaign has said that it will unveil a running mate for Mr. Trump in New York on Friday.

Mr. Pence, a former congressman and radio host, emerged over the last week as the strong favorite of Mr. Trump’s political advisers and senior officials in the Republican Party.

But Mr. Trump himself has sent conflicting signals in recent days, as he has subjected his potential running mates to a final round of screening. He addressed a rally in Indiana alongside Mr. Pence on Tuesday night and met privately with him several times…
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Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Eid Mubarak!

Per al Jazeera, Eid al-Fitr, the celebration at the end of Ramadan, starts today (started last night at sunset) in the US, UK, Canada, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

According to the British Independent:

On the first morning of the celebration, many gather in local mosques or open-air locations for special prayers called Salat al-Eid, and have breakfast.

Muslims put on their finest clothes for what will be their first daylight meal in a month. Some will exchange gifts, greeting cards and prepare special foods. Eid al-Fitr is to celebrate “the happiness which man feels after successfully completing an important task,” according to Al-Islam.

Gatherings will take place to mark the festival across the UK, including an event hosted by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in Trafalgar Square on 9 July. Highlights include prayers, a food festival, and Arabic arts.

Last year, a record-breaking 60,000 Muslims turned up in a Birmingham park to celebrate the end of Ramadan…

Speaking of London’s Mayor, here’s a mid-May anecdote from The Economist:

EVENTUALLY, every senior politician in Britain is invited to Buckingham Palace to join the Privy Council, the body that notionally advises the queen. In 2009 Sadiq Khan, then transport minister, was asked on which version of the Bible he wanted to swear his oath. He replied that, as a Muslim, he would like to use a Koran. Buckingham Palace had none, so he brought his own. Afterwards, when the palace tried to return it, he asked: “Can I leave it here for the next person?”

On May 5th Londoners voted to make Mr Khan their mayor. Except for the direct vote for the Portuguese and French presidents, he thus holds the biggest personal mandate in Europe. His landslide over the Conservatives (he took 57% of the vote to 43% for Zac Goldsmith, his posh Tory rival) was a rebuke to hardliners of all sorts. At a stroke it became harder for Islamic State’s recruiters to tour public housing estates in Europe and convince young Muslims from immigrant backgrounds that they have no place in the liberal West. The de facto capital of that liberal West had just entrusted its future to a mosque-going, gay-marriage-supporting, proudly Muslim family man with precisely such a hinterland…

The Brexit vote was a speedbump, not a wall.

Apart from celebrating, what’s on the agenda for the day?

Open Thread: Pastor Dobson Has A Sad

James “Focus on the Family (While I Pick Your Pocket)” Dobson is very, very disappointed by all us haterz who cruelly mock his optimistic embrace of “baby Christian” Donald Trump…

And not just the unsaved Christianist-haters, either:

Poor saintly Mr. Dobson just wanted to remora Deadbeat Donald’s #WINNING grift while that shark is still moving — living off a host’s, uh, leftovers is an honorable tradition among his clan. How was he to know how rapidly the gilt would wear off the Trump scampaign, once it was exposed to the acid examination of non-believers?