14 thoughts on “News/Politics 4-3-17

  1. I saw this good comment in a “comments section” about Mike Pence not being alone with women other than his wife:

    “One doesn’t have to actually be guilty of something to be accused of it, and Pence has a huge target on his back- and has since at least he became governor, if not before- that would attract those who would justify lies worse than that for “the greater good” of ruining him so they were free to continue to do all the evil they want to do without his interference.

    “When male doctors won’t see female patients without a nurse or tech being in the room with them, everyone says how smart they are, even though it’s sad that’s what society has come to. When a politician won’t put himself in the position where he can be accused of impropriety, everyone screams about how he’s misogynistic and “too Christian” (AKA, WEIRD, as Anne posits) he is.” (from http://www.patheos.com/blogs/preventingrace/2017/03/31/7-brady-bunch-option-takes/ )

    Liked by 3 people

  2. But this is just so much easier than real journalism….. 🙄


    “Oh, there is a lot of speculation. There has been a mountain of articles written about “contacts,” but nothing showing improper or illegal conduct related to the campaign.

    I can’t prove that the speculation is wrong, because there have been no facts disclosed that would allow me to prove it wrong. I also can’t prove that the speculation is right, because there have been no facts disclosed that would allow me to prove it right.

    Like the proverbial broken clock, some of that speculation may end up being correct, even if most of it proves incorrect.”

    “What really is going on here is a Ben Rhodes-style echo chamber created by anti-Trump leakers, Twitter personalities with a lot of followers who constantly scream “treason” and “impeachment,” and a mainstream media that is happy to create a narrative to delegitimize every aspect of Trump’s presidency.

    If you don’t know what a Ben Rhodes-style echo chamber looks like, read Grand Deception: How Obama and Ben Rhodes Lied Us Into the Iran nuke deal, detailing how Obama Iran-deal message coordinator Ben Rhodes deliberately created a false narrative about how the Iran negotiations started. That false narrative, among other things, asserted that the Iran nuclear deal negotiations were a result of more moderate Iranian leadership coming to power. That supposed fact was used to paint the Iran nuclear deal as less dangerous than many worried, because it would encourage a further moderating of Iranian policy. It was all a lie.

    Rhodes, by his own admission, fed that false narrative to a gullible and ignorant media, creating an echo chamber of media support for the deal.”

    “It’s worth noting that while the media shows keen interest in building up the anti-Trump collusion narrative, it seems highly motivated to tear down the improper surveillance narrative asserted by Congressman Devin Nunes and others. The media worries more about whether Trump’s tweets about “wiretapping” were accurate than whether the powers of our spy agencies were abused for political purposes, and whether the Obama administration deliberately tried to undermine the incoming president.”


  3. China is cracking down on Islam.


    “Some of the news coming out of China this month demonstrates the difference between more western, free, open societies and repressive regimes. If you’re in Europe or North America, for example, and you run into a problem with radical Islamic terrorists, you begin a protracted conversation about respect for religious freedom and tolerance combined with carefully crafted military and police enforcement activities designed to detect the “few bad apples” who are causing problems. In China, conversely, you go into the province where you’re experiencing problems and just begin banning public expressions of the faith. (CNN)

    No long beards. No veils in public places. No home-schooling.


    “They’re doubling down on security in Xinjiang,” said James Leibold, an associate professor at Australia’s Le Trobe University, whose research focuses on China’s Uyghur minority.
    Xinhiang, also known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, is the traditional home of the Uyghurs. (You may know some of them from the diaspora they’ve experienced, with some communities settling in the United States.) This particular Muslim group has come under strict scrutiny by the Chinese government after significant unrest and occasional violence in the region. As noted above, the Chinese have a far less “generous” attitude toward anyone who upsets the communist apple cart in the slightest and their version of a Bill of Rights is generally restricted to your right to do whatever the government tells you to do.

    The crackdown is particularly brutal to the thinking of most westerners, though. The list of what’s being restricted and how people are being monitored goes far beyond a simple ban on long beards and facial veils or forcing all Muslims to have GPS trackers in their vehicles. Check some of these out. The following activities are now banned:

    Advocating or propagating extremist thoughts
    Wearing or forcing others to wear full-face coverings
    Hyping up religious fanaticism through growing beards or choosing names in an abnormal way
    Not allowing children to receive state education, interfering with state education;
    Deliberately interfering or harming the implementation of family planning policies;
    Publishing, downloading or reading articles, publications and audio-video material containing extremist content;”


  4. This should remove any remaining doubt that the Obama admin was behind the illegal “unmaskings.”


    “White House lawyers last month learned that the former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

    The pattern of Rice’s requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government’s policy on “unmasking” the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally. Normally those names are redacted from summaries of monitored conversations and appear in reports as something like “U.S. Person One.”

    The National Security Council’s senior director for intelligence, Ezra Cohen-Watnick, was conducting the review, according to two U.S. officials who spoke with Bloomberg View on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. In February Cohen-Watnick discovered Rice’s multiple requests to unmask U.S. persons in intelligence reports that related to Trump transition activities. He brought this to the attention of the White House General Counsel’s office, who reviewed more of Rice’s requests and instructed him to end his own research into the unmasking policy.”


    “The exact national security justifications for Rice accessing the reports isn’t clear and may require additional documentation that the House and Senate intelligence committees have requested from the NSA, America’s lead agency in spying on foreign powers.

    How the information was disseminated beyond Rice will also be a potential focus of congressional oversight, since lawmakers may want to know if it was briefed to Obama or shared with members of her larger circle of advisers, like deputy Ben Rhodes.

    Rice has not returned repeated calls for comment from Circa. But in an interview with PBS recently, she said she had no idea what House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes was talking about when he said Obama officials were monitoring Trump associates after the election.”

    ““There’s always intelligence reporting on an incoming president and how the world is reacting but this election was not like others, and that reporting spiked,” the source said. “Whether and how it was used by the Obama team will have to be evaluated separate of the fact that the reporting this time around was richer and more robust because of the circumstances of the election.””


  5. Slowly but surely…. 🙂


    “Amid the turmoil over staff shake-ups, blocked travel bans and the Russia cloud hanging overhead, President Donald Trump is steadily plugging away at a major piece of his agenda: Undoing Obama.

    From abortion to energy to climate change and personal investments, Trump is keeping his promises in methodically overturning regulations and policies adopted when Barack Obama was president.

    It hasn’t all been smooth sailing.

    Trump recently failed to fulfill his pledge to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which continues to stand as Obama’s most recognizable domestic policy achievement. Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan couldn’t persuade enough fellow Republicans to back new health care legislation last month. Ryan pulled the measure just before a scheduled House vote.
    Trump has had better outcomes in other areas.”


  6. That tweet reads like a non sequitur one liner in a sitcom, intended to bring the house down. I admit, it made me laugh out loud.

    Cheryl, I appreciate the work of Karen Swallow Prior – her book about abolitionist Hannah More, I>Fierce Convictions is a very good read – so it was nice to find she agreed with me on the recent discussion of the ‘Billy Graham rule’ as it is called: http://www.vox.com/first-person/2017/4/1/15142744/mike-pence-billy-graham-rule

    Prudence, in fact, is what seems to be missing from the conversation about the vice president’s “rules.” And I don’t mean prudence in the way that some supporters of the Billy Graham rule are using the term. Prudence as properly understood is a virtue, not a rule.

    It is the virtue most applicable in the context of guarding against workplace romances, the habit of making right decisions. Prudence, which literally means foresight, is the mean between cunning and negligence. It is wisdom in action.

    While prudence does not rely on rules, it doesn’t shun them either. Failure to acknowledge this would be as foolish as praising the federal Title IX regulations out of one side of the mouth while mocking Pence’s personal protections against sexual misbehavior out of the other. I would be unable to serve half of my students if I had a rule not to meet with a man alone, and the same would be true of my male colleagues and their students. On the other hand, because of this necessity, my school (like most) has windows on all office doors and a rule that those windows are not to be covered. This is prudent. The lack of any guiding principles is a deficiency, specifically the vice of negligence.

    The opposite vice, the excess of prudence, is cunning. Cunning in this context manifests itself in a particular way. Cunning foresees too much of sex too much of the time. It anticipates and plans excessively. As many critics have pointed out, excessive attempts to avoid potentially sexualized situations only sexualizes them further. Like my offer of a ride to my colleague: It wasn’t sexual — until it was. While boundaries are not only good but necessary, they will shift from time to time, person to person, and situation to situation. After all, rules about no closed doors, lunches, or car rides were made many years before the internet became the most ubiquitous form of infidelity. Only moral character can guard against some things. Rigid, one-size-fits all rules tend toward the excess of cunning, which is a vice.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Roscuro, if he didn’t have such a rule, I wouldn’t be judging his motives as to why he “wants” to meet alone with women, how maybe he is looking for a chance to be unfaithful to his wife. Likewise, I think it is harmful to take a policy of his, which is in reality not relevant to any of us and probably not any of our business, and speculate as to what kind of oversexed pervert he must be (assuming that he is oversexualizing relationships with women). Truth is, I’m pretty sure none of us knows the reason for the policy, but I can think of two good reasons (and there might be more): (1) to avoid entrapment or the appearance of impropriety and (2) because he is honoring his wife’s preference.

    My husband is an elder. As such, when someone in the church confides in him, he asks if he is free to share the prayer request or concern with me, but I can only assume that sometimes people say no. Somewhat humorously, one time he and I were both talking to a friend of mine from church and she said something that she had previously confided to each of us, asking each of us not to share it with anyone else, and neither of us had mentioned it to the other. He has had one-on-one conversations with various people in the church, including women, either by phone or by the two of them getting alone in the sanctuary after church with other clusters of talking people not being close enough to overhear. Few people would see this as inappropriate, and I do not. However, when I say something to a married person, I assume that person’s right to tell his/her husband/wife about our conversation unless I say otherwise. Because he is an elder, it is different, and I get that.

    However, when I wanted to talk to my Nashville pastor one-on-one (expected to be a longer conversation, and not just a casual one) about issues in a dating relationship, it did not seem proper to go to his office with the door closed, just the two of us, for an hour, and so we included my best friend, who was already aware of pretty much everything I wanted to discuss. Had she not been available, the pastor’s wife might have been involved in such a discussion, or we might have held it with the secretary at her desk on the other side of the door and able to look in on us. If a woman in our church wanted to take my husband to lunch to talk about some issue, I would want to be present, or to have some other third party present. Not because I don’t trust my husband, but simply for propriety–in our culture at least there is a certain intimacy (even if it isn’t sexual) in one-on-one meals–and because I actually think I might be an asset to such a conversation. Now, if he was taking a business client to lunch (a one-time meeting) that might be a totally different matter–there is no prior personal relationship there, and there’s no way I can be an asset to that conversation. But then, other boundaries are in place in such a setting–many other diners, the presence of a professional demeanor,the fact that this is a one-time meeting, etc. If he were to have weekly one-on-one meetings with a female co-worker, absolutely I’d have a problem with that. I would actually think it would be wisdom to avoid any such lunches, and it wouldn’t be because I don’t trust my husband. I do trust my husband. But personally I think there is some wisdom in not treating women as interchangeable with men, and this is one area. Likewise, when I was in my twenties and had a guy friend, he wanted to sit on his bed and watch a movie on his VCR and I said no. Someone else might have said this is OK, since he is a friend and not a romantic partner, but to me that was crossing a line and I said no. I wouldn’t judge the person who chose differently, and I would hope she wouldn’t judge me.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Re the linked article: It looks like she made an assumption that her male colleague turned down the offer of a ride for the “Billy Graham rule.” But maybe he walked to the meeting because he preferred to walk and he planned to walk back too, and he paused briefly to consider whether saying “no thanks” would be rude when he in fact preferred to walk. Or for all she knows, he was attracted to her and his first instinct was “Yes!!” but in honor to his wife he decided a wiser answer was no. Judging another’s reasons or motives is tricky business, and something I have long since thought it wiser to avoid.

    I taught college English, adjunct, a couple of semesters, and it would have been silly to be willing to meet with female students but not male students. Likewise, the male pastor seeing a parishioner walking in the rain, or tripping and about to fall flat on her face, and who chooses to put his own “honor” first isn’t acting very pastoral.

    In my opinion, the wisest course is to have the policy in place, but understand when greater wisdom waives it. You as a pastor don’t meet alone with someone of the opposite sex . . . but this time this woman in your church is in utter distress and she hasn’t had anything to eat, so you take her to a restaurant, call your wife on the way to the restaurant and give her the option of meeting the two of you there (which will add the feminine touch to the conversation, anyway) but you take the woman whether or not your wife can come. That would be an example of “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”


  9. Cheryl, as I said several days ago, the VP isn’t of particular interest to me in the discussion. His story merely brought up a topic I have been thinking over for a while, as, it would seem, have others such as Professor Prior.


  10. One can conjure negatives about Pence’s scruple regarding meeting with women, whether those negatives would have to do with some weird fear he has about women, something misogynistic, something that makes his job impractical or puts women at a professional disadvantage, or whatever, but for any negative I’ve seen floated, it takes quite a leap to assume those negatives must be true. On the other hand, there is *all kinds* of positive–from the admirable to the practical–that could be possible about such a scruple, and there’s nothing unreasonable about assuming any of those things might be true. It’s mind-boggling anyone would give two seconds of thought to the matter looking to apply the negatives.


  11. I stopped in to visit a church when we moved to a new town. I explained why I was there.

    The pastor invited me to sit down and talk about our family.

    He led me into the library, had me sit across the table from him and closed the windowless door.

    I felt really uncomfortable, even while the conversation was polite and cordial. He did nothing wrong, but . . . we didn’t go to that church.

    Some of it may have been the result of my husband’s experience at Pearl, some, too, from the two-adult training we got from the Boy Scouts of America, but I couldn’t help think that pastor wasn’t very wise.

    We each know our limitations and where we feel comfortable. When I journed to Glasgow from Edinburgh to meet a stranger for lunch, I was thankful Hill was with me.

    Prior’s article, which I read online yesterday, noted that her office has a window–as do all the offices at her college. A window would have made me, personally, feel more comfortable.

    And I’m not even a young pretty woman. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  12. On a different subject . . . Ricky, I was thinking of your assertion that people should be pretty much willing to move anywhere for career reasons, seemingly not even with “preference” given to one’s own region. And I think one reason I have problems with it, even though I know it is sometimes necessary and I myself have lived in four states/three regions so far . . . in the model of the United States, it is supposed to be the States that have precedence, not the nations formed by a voluntary union of those states. Moving from Texas to New Mexico should be rather like moving from Iran to Iraq. It isn’t that you can’t do it if you need to, but it’s good to have some local ties if possible.

    I’m an Arizonan by birth, and parts of me will always be an Arizonan. I haven’t even been back since my mom’s funeral in 2003–I say that with regret, as I wish it weren’t true–but it’s in my blood. My six siblings and I live in seven states (none of us in Arizona), and that isn’t a good thing. Meanwhile, my husband’s family and his late wife’s family are all in Indiana; the girls grew up knowing all of their grandparents, all of their aunts and uncles, and all of their cousins. I did not. (The girls were not born in Indiana, but my husband and his first wife moved back here later.) If the girls stay in the same state as we are, they will have extended family speaking into their children’s lives, offering free childcare, etc. That is not “everything,” but surely it is worth much. Worth more than a pay increase unless it’s a pretty big one!

    We live in a fallen world, and it isn’t always possible to let one’s children grow up around extended family. But it can and should be the “default” if it’s possible, unless there is good reason to move (e.g., a call to missions or a better job elsewhere). For me, two out of three of my interstate moves have been all of largely to get close to family–to move out of Chicago and closer to my siblings, and to join my husband and his family. Moving away from family needs to have a pretty good reason attached. (As did my move for college and then staying in Chicago for a job.)

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