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CSotD: Baalderdash

Paul Fell speaks to a specific blasphemy, but his cartoon has wider and deeper significance.

The notion of Trump as the Chosen One is ludicrous, but the notion of people of any major religion embracing a vulgar, lying, fornicating etc etc etc conman as a fit leader, even within the secular sphere, is already so ridiculous that, if it weren’t happening, we wouldn’t believe it.

I am old enough, O Best Beloved, to remember when Nelson Rockefeller’s divorce, it was believed, would end his political career.

It didn’t, but that was a surprise, and it was gratifying to know that the distributors of Scarlet Letters no longer had the power to impose their strict, unyielding moral code on the rest of us.

Still, Gary Hart had to withdraw when his infidelity was unmasked.

And it’s odd that, whatever the differences in behavior between Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, at least Clinton hid behind plausible deniability. He didn’t brag about it, he didn’t bribe (there’s that word again) anyone to stay quiet.

Beyond that, the cruelty of mocking a reporter’s physical disability and other mean-spirited name-calling, racial comments and generally bullying arrogance should shock the conscience of any decent person, much less one who ties their identity into a major religion.

It is a puzzlement.

But the only real mystery is “why,” not “if.”

We know they’ll do it. Perhaps we’ll never understand why.

It’s important to understand that the betrayal in Exodus was just that: At the time of Exodus, the Jews did not believe there was only one god.

That came later, with the Babylonian Captivity. At the time of the Exodus, their belief was that there was only one god for them.

To abandon Jehovah for this golden calf was a great betrayal — especially given what they’d seen in their escape from Egypt — but it wasn’t absurd. They weren’t inventing a new god so much as simply changing sides.

They had been taught to worship Jehovah, but there was no reason they couldn’t worship Baal instead.

I suppose some of them remembered having homes and food back in Egypt, however they were discriminated against and mistreated.

Exodus tells us that trudging through the desert towards unfulfilled promises of milk and honey roused a fair amount of grumbling, not among all, probably not among a majority, but among enough people to sway the rest.

Imagine if it were played upon rather than suppressed.

Enter Fox News and talk radio.

As noted here before, “Animal Farm” is a more fitting book to understand the current situation than “1984,” which only fills in the details.

That is, 1984 is a nice guide to the language, the fine points, the paranoia.

But Animal Farm is a better blueprint of how a small core of amoral, ambitious mobsters can divert a righteous movement and turn it to their own nefarious goals.

There’s also this: In “Animal Farm,” the pigs are smart and everybody else is pretty stupid. The sheep, appropriately, are the most easily lead, but, among the others, there’s only a dull suspicion that this wasn’t the community we thought we were building.

Enter the Russians.

I linked this article about the Russian troll farms yesterday, but, if you didn’t read it then, you should read it now, and weep by the waters of Babylon.

The main point being that the trolls don’t just plant hateful lies and outrageous accusations. They plant attractive things that seem reasonable but are intended to undercut and divide, until it seems the only people who aren’t divided, who aren’t quarreling over fine points, are the Evangelicals and others who worship power, false prophets and false promises.


Besides, it’s good to have someone in power who will explain things as plainly as he does in this Joel Pett cartoon.

Clinton’s simply having visited Russia as a student became a major attack point for George Bush, granted one that failed.

But Trump’s collection of best friends ought to be a clear message that our days as a “shining city on the hill” are over.

“I’ve spoken of the Shining City all my political life. …In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.” — Ronald Reagan

That was then. This is now.

And Trump’s faithful are like the parents who don’t mind who their son brings around the house, who he hangs out with.

He’s a good boy, they insist. Maybe he’ll be a good influence on them.


And any thoughts that the Republicans would keep Trump’s worst instincts in check are long since gone, along with the Merrick Garland nomination.

They’ve chosen power, and, as Adam Zyglis points out, they’re not simply acting to empower themselves but have become so caught up in the Narrative of Baal that they are not resisting the Russians’ cockamamie explanation of what happened in 2016.

Or perhaps they are simply reluctant to admit that Dear Leader was not only extorting the Ukrainians to help him gather campaign material, but that the material he sought was roughly on a par with searching Kenya to find Obama’s swaddling clothes.

I note that Senator Kennedy has admitted he was wrong, that there was no Ukrainian Conspiracy.

We’ll see how many other Republicans step up to set the record straight.

More important, how many will vote their consciences instead of the party line?

Most important: When it comes to light that they were acting as Russian pawns, will the people turn against them?

Or will they chant bullshit and stone that man coming down the hill with the tablets in his hands?


Community Comments

#1 Bill Harris
@ 8:45 am

Where the Democrats have failed in their strategy is making pro-abortion policies the litmus test for its candidates. They seem to have failed to realize that there is a large group of Americans, mostly Evangelicals but also Catholics and other Christians, that use an anti-abortion stance as their litmus test for candidates. The GOP has swooped in and locked up this voting block that will overlook all other sins. As long as the Democrats lock out any dissension or thought of compromise on abortion and Trump mouths “family values” platitudes, the Trumpsters will continue to unironically worship their chosen one.

Sadly, the intractable stances of both parties on the issue leave many Americans without a home in the political desert.

#2 Mike Peterson
@ 9:11 am

It’s a pretty even split, but with wide variance by age, so the difference is who shows up to vote.

If young people leave it up to their elders to carry the burden, then you might well be right. And the voices heard on social media are not necessarily the ones heard at the booths.

#3 Bill Harris
@ 9:54 am

The only problem I have with that survey is the binary approach. There is a lot of shades of pro-abortion and pro-life yet the question forces the respondents to self-identify into one of two camps. I suspect a middle ground of limited abortion and increased support for mothers and children would capture a plurality.

Interesting that pro-life stance increases with age- I assume life experience and having lived through rising children affects one’s opinions. (I wonder how many parents in the middle of raising teenagers become pro-abortion!)

I also understand that some End Days Evangelicals support DJT as they see him as the instigator of the Earthly events that lead to Second Coming. So in other words, the more odious he is, the better indication that he is the Chosen One (in a physical-world destroying sense).

#4 Kip Williams
@ 10:08 am

We are the whited sepulcher on the hill.

And I’ll value Senator Kennedy’s retraction more when and if he makes it on Fox News.

#5 Mike Peterson
@ 5:23 pm

I doubt pro-life beliefs increase with age. I think people who were young in the Olden Days didn’t talk about the choices they were making and the problems they were having.

And if one of the cheerleaders went off to live with her aunt in another town for a few months and then came home, well, that was fine.

And if another girl, bless her heart, contracted some kind of rare blood disease and died, well, it’s just so sad.

Meanwhile, those of us who grew up knowing that was what had a different view of matters.

We weren’t satisfied with stories of girls helping Aunt Ellen and we knew damn well why Susie died. And we knew it didn’t have to be that way.

We’re not going to suddenly become insensitive because we’ve got a few gray hairs.

#6 Mary McNeil
@ 5:46 pm

Pro-Choicers don’t insist that everyone have abortions.

And I, for one, am old enough to remember when JFK would not be elected because of Th Pope. (As Harry Truman famously said “~It’s not the Pope I’m worried about ; it’s the Pop.”)

#7 Bill Harris
@ 8:16 am

Not sure there is a correlation between what we old timers saw in the 60’s (or in my case, the 70’s) and their beliefs today. If anything, seeing how much perceptions about women’s choices have changed in that time and having witnessed the “bad old days”, wouldn’t they feel freer to publicly express support for abortion rights?

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