Living Large In Carson City: I Heard Him Call My Name . . . Not Edition

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Scott Pruitt’s faith guided his time in office and shielded him

He argued that God gave mankind “dominion” over the environment. Vox

Vox’s Tara Isabella Burton penned the article above in response to the news that the little dandy from Oklahoma, Scott Pruitt, had resigned as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. The news came the morning of July 5, and with it, images of Pruitt wandering the capital grounds the previous evening as crowds gathered to watch a 4th of July fireworks display. Two questions have to be asked.

One, was Pruitt so out of the loop that he had no idea his boss, Donald Trump, was about to give him the boot? Two, did he know of the coming pink slip but went to the celebration anyway knowing it would possibly be the last time he had a chance to rub shoulders with Washington’s elite, a group he was about to be booted from when the morning news cycle came to light? Knowing Pruitt’s capacity for self delusion and sycophantic, toadying nature, there is probably a bit of truth in both.

Nothing, however, is that crystal clear when it comes the actions and motivations of the former director of the EPA. Then there is talk about a new scandal that is being bandied about on cable news shows the last few days. Supposedly, several weeks ago, Pruitt let the president know that he was willing to replace Jeff Sessions if Trump fired the beleaguered Attorney General.

Pruitt argued that under the The Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 presidents have the right to appoint a “temporary” replacement if the current seat holder is for some reason removed from office. Pruitt’s ill-conceived plan would have him sitting in for 210 days as temporary director as stipulated in the 1998 act. After that time, supposedly,  a new AG would have passed through the confirmation process, at which time, Pruitt would step down and move back to Oklahoma to run for either the governorship or as a candidate for the United States Senate.

Pruitt denied the allegation, but Pruitt’s veracity is only a little better than Trump’s own rocky relationship to the truth. Had Trump been foolish enough to accept the offer, presumably, the über loyal lapdog, Pruitt, would have eliminated the pesky little investigation into the Trump campaign’s collusion with the Russians during the 2016 campaign and election, and along with it, the well-respected special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Yet another scandal is covered in the CNN article that revealed staffers at the EPA kept a secret calendar that would be used as a template for the official calendar released to the public. Before the secret calendar came to print, problematic meetings and appointments with the names of those present would be “scrubbed” from the official version. By law, each department is required to submit an official calendar to allow the public to see what department heads were up to and why.

By keeping a secret calendar, Pruitt could meet with lobbyist and industry officials who had interest in influencing the director to support their desires to change federal regulatory law that came before the EPA. What Pruitt and his minions at the EPA were doing was possibly illegal, and something Pruitt would have to explain before Congress. Trump may have simply had it with Pruitt and wanted him gone.

Back to my original reason for writing this blog and Burton’s Vox article. She stated that Pruitt’s faith in God insulated him from condemnation and allowed him to stay in office. This despite 15 ongoing ethics violations investigations by various departments of Congress and the government currently against him. In the title of the article, Burton states,

“He argued that God gave mankind “dominion” over the environment.”

As a devout Southern Baptist christian, Pruitt is the epitome of hypocrisy. A proven liar, narcissist, and grifter, Pruitt’s claims and actions do not mesh with reality.  Maybe his God is a willful destroyer of all things that are right and holy about this planet. Maybe his God is simply an asshole who is beholden to big business and industries that rape, pillage and destroy everything that is good about the planet and the people who live here.

Or maybe, Pruitt is exactly what he appears to be. A small-minded man with an ego the size of Texas who came to Washington with his hand out looking for as many opportunities to enrich himself and his family at the expense of the American people and the government to which he pledged allegiance. This is the kind of person that if there were a God would have long ago been struck down by a proverbial bolt of lightening. He does a poor job of spreading his “Christian values” to the masses and is the poster boy for the Republican Party has become under the Trump administration.

At the end of the day, the one redeeming note of hope to come out of Pruitt’s debacle is he is gone, not forgotten, he still has to face the ethics allegations that he unwisely used his office and position in illegal ways, but gone from the role he played in the EPA. Honestly, his temporary replacement, a former coal lobbyist, will not be much better, possibly worse. Still, I look forward to next Monday morning knowing that Pruitt and his holier-than-thou personae will be headed back to Oklahoma, but this time on his own dime.

 

 

Living Large In Carson City: America Ain’t Got Time For That Edition

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This week has been a little frustrating, but fulfilling, as the week unfolded. We had guests who took up most of my waking hours. Consequently, I had to stand back and watch all manner of events, scandals, faux pas’, and the general chaos that our federal government has become under Donald Trump swagger by without comment. Still, I wanted to get something down on record, so I’ve selected several over the top stories that I just cannot let go of in light of their absurdity and poignancy they hold for the American people.

The first story was a Trump Tweet about the Santa Fe High School shooting on Friday. Just north of Galveston, Santa Fe could not be more in Trump’s radar if it was an entrant in the misogynistic Miss America contest. This is after all Trump country. The orange one Tweeted:

“My administration is determined to do everything in our power to protect our students, secure our schools and do everything we can to keep weapons out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves and to others,” Trump said during an event at the White House. “Everyone must work together at every level of government to keep our children safe.”

Yeah? How is that working out for you Donald? After the Parkland, Florida massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, you first seemed to stand up against the National Rifle Association while it was politically correct to do so. It didn’t take long for the NRA powers to yank your chain, and you flipflopped. The most you could come up with was to back the idiotic idea of training and arming school teachers as if they would be able to stop a crazed gunman when trained law enforcement officers could not.

He ends with this placid non-statement:

“We grieve for the terrible loss of life and send our support to everyone affected by this absolutely horrific attack,” he said. “To the students, families, teachers and personnel at Santa Fe High, we are with you at this tragic hour and we will be with you forever.”

The most redeeming element of this statement is that he didn’t send prayers for their pain and suffering. This man is the king of the sterilized comments which do little if anything to comfort or promote healing during these radically charged emotional times.

Red more here

Then there was that crazy guy white guy Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Alabama). Okay, no one ever accused Brooks of being the brightest bulb in the basket when it comes to climate change, but the shining light of Alabama’s 5th Congressional district truly out did himself this week. If Bill Nye is the Science Guy, Brooks is the Stone Age Guy.

Here is his contribution to solving the climate change crisis and rising sea levels that the world faces:

‘“Brooks then said that erosion plays a significant role in sea-level rise, which is not an idea embraced by mainstream climate researchers. He said the California coastline and the White Cliffs of Dover tumble into the sea every year, and that contributes to sea-level rise. He also said that silt washing into the ocean from the world’s major rivers, including the Mississippi, the Amazon and the Nile, is contributing to sea-level rise.

“Every time you have that soil or rock or whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise, because now you have less space in those oceans, because the bottom is moving up,” Brooks said.

(Moderator) Duffy responded: “I’m pretty sure that on human time scales, those are minuscule effects.”’

The Daily Kos’ blog writer, Hunter, posited that Brooks should also look into boats and whales and how they also displace water, so they too could be a factor. Or most controversial, the Earth is shrinking and is to blame for the sea’s rise around the world. I am fairly certain Hunter was being rhetorical or maybe tongue in cheek. No one, after all, would belittle the august Congressman with trifle comments when his “rock theory” is so well constructed.

Read more here

The question I have on this next story and one all of America is asking: Is Rudy Giualiani high? It would be cruel and unwarranted to simply call Rudy an idiot. Yet, some of the things that comes out of his mouth are truly suspect. Pundits believe that Rudy was a great mayor and possibly a brilliant lawyer at one time, but one has to question why he seems to not understand the underlying issues that are swirling around Donald Trump’s White House these days. The foundation of the United States Constitution places everyone, lying, unscrupulous politicians as well, on an equal footing. Just because someone becomes president does not lift them above the masses and the rule of law. Here Rudy banters with Chris Cuomo on the elite nature of the American presidency, or at least in his mind.

GIULIANI: The president has complete discretion to fire anybody he wants.

CUOMO: What about corrupt intent?

GIULIANI: Doesn’t apply.

CUOMO: Why not?

GIULIANI: There’s no evidence of that.

CUOMO: You don’t think a president can obstruct justice?

GIULIANI: He can. But I think in the case of firing a subordinate who’s going to be replaced by somebody else on an acting basis immediately —

CUOMO: But it’s why you fired them. Corrupt intent. It’s part of the legal analysis.

GIULIANI: It doesn’t matter if in fact it can’t result in anything. The investigation continued. The investigation expanded.

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And just for the fun of it, get a heaping helping of Giuliani metaphorically stomping his foot like a three-year-old child with their feelings hurt.

As Cuomo played the clip, an angered Giuliani screamed, “That’s really unfair. What you’re doing right now is extremely unfair. It’s the reason people don’t come on this show.

Uh, Rudy, you are on the show. See the earlier question about the possibility of his being high.

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Then there is this from the bigoted Hobby Lobby saga that simply won’t go away. Enter Brian Spurlock who returned a circuit cutter to Hobby Lobby for his girlfriend. Armed with the cutter, sales slip and original packaging, Spurlock set about his errand with little more to worry about other than having to deal with the often tediousness task of returning merchandise to a chain store. The first clerk he encountered asked him to step out of line while the clerk went to clear the transaction with his manager.  Here is what happened next:

The cashier returned to Spurlock and told him the manager was calling the store’s corporate office, as if Hobby Lobby has a staff of operators on standby waiting to approve trinket returns. The manager asked Spurlock to step aside and wait while she called Hobby Lobby’s Cricut Emergency Return Squad.

The manager called the police instead. According to the police, the manager thought Spurlock looked like someone who had been returning stolen items to their store.

The police arrived and asked Spurlock for his identification papers. Spurlock was still in the dark thinking checking ID was normal procedure. The cop ran his ID and found nothing. He returned and told Spurlock when he got his refund to immediately leave the store, or he would be charged with trespassing. Huh? Another article stated that Hobby Lobby also accused Spurlock of talking to loudly outside the store.

So, in the course of a few minutes, a seemingly upstanding customer was accused of being “someone” who looked like a mysterious person who returned stolen goods for money, trespassing and finally talking too loud in the parking lot.

The one offense left out of the equation was “returning merchandise while black”. This is one of the most disturbing trends in America today; white people so afraid of anyone that isn’t like them calling the police for no reason but to intimidate and harass people only for the color of their skin.

The Hobby Lobby manager’s response to Spurlock query on why the police were called?

 “We were only following orders from our upper management.”

Disgusting.

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Living Large with Noah and the Christians: A tempest in a teacup

I saw Noah this weekend, and really, cannot identify the problem many religious types have with the movie. First of all, the Biblical account of the Flood in Genesis 6 – 9 is only one of hundreds of versions of the Flood story that are found in civilizations from around the world. Gilgamesh left an account of the Flood in ca 2500 BCE on stone tablets, long before the Hebrew Bible was compiled centuries after Gil’s account was old news. It is just like a bunch of pious Christians trying to alter reality to fit their own particular version of world events, truth be damned. 

Much of what I have read in reviews are along the lines of the one found at Crossmap which gives an overview of what Christians find so upsetting about the film starring Russell Crow. Citing Ken Ham, a noted creationist and president of Answers for Genesis, “it may be the worst film I’ve ever seen” and that “it is hard to fathom why some Christian leaders have recommended this movie.” 

I agree. This is not a Biblical story per se. Sure, Noah and his wife are there and his sons and daughters along with his weird father, Methuselah, made even weirder by Anthony Hopkins’ odd portrayal of the noted octogenarian. Another scene that has the religious types are up in arms over is the scene where Noah gets drunk on wine and lays around naked as the day he was born. Granted, considering the sexual repression Christians are so famous for, I can see getting a glimpse of Crow’s naked buttocks might be cause for getting out the torches and pitchforks, but honestly, it was a little Meh. If Christians can read some evil sexual innuendo into the scene, they are in serious trouble and need to seek professional help ASAP. 

In the Crossmap post, Ham had this to say: 

“There is barely a hint of biblical fidelity in this film. It is an unbiblical, pagan film from its start. It opens with: ‘In the beginning there was nothing.’ The Bible opens with, ‘In the beginning God.’ That difference helps sum up the problem I have with the film. The Bible is about the true God of creation; the movie does not present the true God of the Bible,” Ham continued. 

This is an accurate summation of the movie, and a good one. This isn’t a Biblical movie, it’s a pre-summer blockbuster meant to make scads of money on the world market (Upwards of $90 million worldwide since it opened. Forty-four million dollars from the U.S. market this weekend alone). However, Ham’s statement that the Bible is the true creation of god is certainly the party line objection when it comes to criticizing anything that doesn’t suit the creationists’ belief system. Again though, the Flood is not uniquely a Biblical story. Here is a comparison between Gilgamesh’ Flood story and Noah’s: 

“The table below presents a comparison of the main aspects of the two accounts of the flood as presented in the Book of Genesis and in the Epic of Gilgamesh.”

 

 

GENESIS

GILGAMESH

Extent of flood

Global

Global

Cause

Man’s wickedness

Man’s sins

Intended for whom?

All mankind

One city & all mankind

Sender

Yahweh

Assembly of “gods”

Name of hero

Noah

Utnapishtim

Hero’s character

Righteous

Righteous

Means of announcement

Direct from God

In a dream

Ordered to build boat?

Yes

Yes

Did hero complain?

Yes

Yes

Height of boat

Several stories (3)

Several stories (6)

Compartments inside?

Many

Many

Doors

One

One

Windows

At least one

At least one

Outside coating

Pitch

Pitch

Shape of boat

Rectangular

Square

Human passengers

Family members only

Family & few others

Other passengers

All species of animals

All species of animals

Means of flood

Ground water & heavy rain

Heavy rain

Duration of flood

Long (40 days & nights plus)

Short (6 days & nights)

Test to find land

Release of birds

Release of birds

Types of birds

Raven & three doves

Dove, swallow, raven

Ark landing spot

Mountain — Mt. Ararat

Mountain — Mt. Nisir

Sacrificed after flood?

Yes, by Noah

Yes, by Utnapishtim

Blessed after flood?

Yes

Yes

 Institute for Creation Research

Call me crazy, but as far as blockbusters go, this isn’t even a good one. Sure there are some neat creatures and evil bad guys, but any of the Hobbit moves puts the script, CGI technology and action sequences of Noah to shame. It just isn’t that interesting. I like Crow in most movies, but here, he is morose, a bit too wackily engaged with his “god” sent mission, and above all, the ending has been given away centuries ago. There is little to make anyone, Christian or secular, to want to sing the praises of this pondering, ark of a movie in the first place.