C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.


Saturday, October 31, 2020

What Do Americans Really Want?

 And what is the American character?  Renowned historian David McCullough answers those questions in this six-minute interview from 2017, which is highly pertinent to the present moment.

   

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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Keeping It French

 A Cajun cowboy explains why he clings to his roots.  You'll like this short vid, fellas, even if you don't parlez francais.


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Sunday, October 25, 2020

We Voted



 Yesterday.  About 5 p.m.  Big auditorium, almost nobody there.  No lines, no waiting, poll workers very friendly and helpful.  It was a breeze.  Thank goodness for early voting.  (I'm happy to report that we were given scannable paper ballots, too.)

On the way home we picked up some groceries, including a little slice of blueberry cheese - yes, there is such a thing and it's delicious - came home, kicked off our shoes, and celebrated our votes with assorted cheeses, pepperoni slices, homemade "pizza toast," and a bottle of Guinness each.  Also conversation, music, and laughs.  Cheaper and much more fun than going out to a bar, we both agreed.

So for the record, the Pork Boys have done their patriotic duty to put the country back on the right track.  The rest is up to all of you. 


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Sunday Drive: Vivaldi, Mandolin Concerto in C Major

 The familiar concerto, played here by a full ensemble of mandolins, and featuring a brilliant performance by the renowned Israeli mandolinist Ari Avital.

 


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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Pope Comes Out for Civil Unions

Whoa.  In a breathtaking departure from Catholic teaching up till now, Pope Francis has unofficially stated his approval of civil unions for gay couples.  The Catholic News Agency reports:

In a documentary that premiered Wednesday in Rome, Pope Francis called for the passage of civil union laws for same-sex couples, departing from the position of the Vatican’s doctrinal office and the pope’s predecessors on the issue.

The remarks came amid a portion of the documentary that reflected on pastoral care for those who identify as LGBT. 

“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it,” Pope Francis said in the film, of his approach to pastoral care.

After those remarks, and in comments likely to spark controversy among Catholics, Pope Francis weighed in directly on the issue of civil unions for same-sex couples.

“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” the pope said. “I stood up for that.”

The remarks come in “Francesco,” a documentary on the life and ministry of Pope Francis which premiered Oct. 21 as part of the Rome Film Festival, and is set to make its North American premiere on Sunday.

Well, I'm stunned, and I'm not even Catholic.  However, it does seem in line with Pope Francis's kindly personality and humane approach to pastoral issues.  For us Americans, this change of tune comes a bit late; but then no doubt in some other, less-evolved societies, people may feel it comes too soon.  Be that as it may, we'll take it, and I for one will count Pope Francis as a "gay ally" from here on out.

Don't reject goodwill or friendship just because it doesn't arrive on your timetable.  Despite the incessant gay-hooray of American media, the fact remains that we are a tiny minority of the population both here and all around the world.  (You can look it up for yourself.)  And who knows what the legal and judicial atmosphere will be after this election.  

We need all the friends we can get, fellas.  And we don't have to be Catholic to realize that Francis has done a beautiful thing:  he has affirmed that we gays are human beings, after all, and children of God - just like everybody else.  Our essential humanity, our right to exist, does not, of course, depend on his say-so; but coming from the Pope, this will open some hearts that have been hitherto closed against us.  

Thank you, Your Holiness.

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Update:  See my post from 3/13/21, Pope Francis Nixes Gay Unions.

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Go from There

Studly Oscar-nominated actor Sam Elliott has recorded a campaign ad for Joe Biden.  I could listen to it all day.

 

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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

USA Today Endorses Joe Biden

 
The Editorial Board of the nationwide daily USA Today - and for my overseas truckbuddies, I might describe it as the low-key, mild-mannered Mr. Rogers of American newspapers - has for the first time in its four-decade history endorsed a presidential candidate. Excerpt from the Board's statement:
Four years ago, the Editorial Board — an ideologically and demographically diverse group of journalists that is separate from the news staff and operates by consensus — broke with tradition and took sides in the presidential race for the first time since USA TODAY was founded in 1982. We urged readers not to vote for Donald Trump, calling the Republican nominee unfit for office because he lacked the “temperament, knowledge, steadiness and honesty that America needs from its presidents.”

We stopped short, however, of an outright endorsement of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. This year, the Editorial Board unanimously supports the election of Joe Biden, who offers a shaken nation a harbor of calm and competence. . . .

It's no secret that the Editorial Board disagrees with Trump not just on his approach to the coronavirus but also on fundamental issues, from health care and climate change to immigration and trade. Policy differences, however, are not the reason behind our first-ever presidential endorsement. Diverse views, even ones we think are wrongheaded, are a staple of American politics and something to celebrate.

If this were a choice between two capable major party nominees who happened to have opposing ideas, we wouldn’t choose sides. Different voters have different concerns. But this is not a normal election, and these are not normal times. This year, character, competence and credibility are on the ballot. Given Trump’s refusal to guarantee a peaceful transfer of power if he loses, so, too, is the future of America's democracy.

For nearly four decades, the Editorial Board has stood for certain core values: truth, accountability, civility in public discourse, opposition to racism, common-ground solutions to the nation’s problems, and steadfast support for First Amendment rights. These aren’t partisan issues, or at least they shouldn’t be.

Donald Trump has trampled each of these principles, making more than 20,000 false or misleading statements, ducking responsibility for his actions, spewing streams of invective at his critics, trafficking in racial fearmongering, governing more as the leader of the red states than of the United States, and relentlessly attacking the free press.

Everything about Biden’s nearly half-century political career suggests he would do a far better job of respecting these values. “We need to revive the spirit of bipartisanship in this country, the spirit of being able to work with one another,” the Democratic nominee said in a recent speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. . . .

Biden is well positioned to repair the wreckage Trump has made of the federal government, from the foreign service to the science agencies Trump has tried to politicize. As vice president in the Obama administration, Biden played a central role in the last economic recovery and is equipped to handle another one.

Even before the pandemic struck, Trump did no better than the Obama-Biden administration on job creation, the stock market and economic growth. (Remember his promise to pay off the national debt in eight years? It's now $27 trillion, up more than $7 trillion from four years ago.) Biden knows that the recovery process will require, first and foremost, a comprehensive national response to the COVID-19 crisis that has upended Americans’ lives and left large sectors of the economy reeling. 

This extraordinary moment in the history of our nation requires an extraordinary response. With his plans, his personnel picks, his experience and his humanity, Joe Biden can help lead the United States out of this morass and into the future. Your vote can help make that happen.


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Monday, October 19, 2020

The Firehose of Falsehood

Vladimir Putin & Donald Trump in Helsinki, 16 July 2018 (10) Trump isn't nuts, he's trying to make you nuts, writes Mark Follman at Mother Jones.  Excerpt:

Trump may well be a dangerous psychopath, but he isn’t crazy. He doesn’t spread lunatic conspiracy theories because he believes them. Not for a moment does he actually think that Joe Biden secretly arranged the murder of Navy SEALs in a scheme to stage the takedown of Osama bin Laden. When Trump shared those claims recently on Twitter, his motivation was, as always, to provoke, entertain, confuse, “trigger the libs,” and change the subject from his own failures. . . .

It’s worth looking again at the big picture here, one Mother Jones began documenting shortly after the 2016 election: Trump is using the autocrat’s playbook. Vladimir Putin’s, to be specific. As contributor Denise Clifton wrote more than three years ago, Trump’s deluge of demagoguery and lies “echoes a contemporary form of Russian propaganda known as the ‘Firehose of Falsehood.’” With Election Day nearing, the comparison has never been more apt.

In 2016, the nonpartisan think tank RAND published a study of the tactics and techniques used in Kremlin-controlled media. The end goal of what the researchers called “a shameless willingness to disseminate partial truths or outright fictions” was to entertain, confuse, and overwhelm the public. (The entertainment component can serve as inspiration for loyal followers—for example, a string of broadcast traveling stage performances showcasing a greatest-hits of outrage and outrageousness.)

Look back at just about any point in Trump’s presidency and it’s evident how he has fulfilled four defining features of the Kremlin playbook, as identified in the RAND study:

  • High numbers of channels and messages”: Trump by no means controls the American media, but he has access to an unprecedented version of state-controlled television in Fox News, along with enormous unfettered reach through Facebook and Twitter (which further feeds all manner of news outlets).
  • Rapid, continuous and repetitive”: There are countless instances of Trump repeating a lie or line of attack multiple times during interviews, press conferences, and campaign rallies.
  • Lacks commitment to consistency”: In one recent example, Trump pushed for more coronavirus aid from Congress before railing against it and then calling for it again, in a span of less than 24 hours. In another, he turned his back on aid for wildfire-stricken California only to quickly reverse his position.
  • Lacks commitment to objective reality.” This one is pretty self-explanatory, but just in case… here are 20,000 examples.

Follman's well-written essay is worth reading in full.  Bottom line:  don't give up, don't look away, keep hope alive and VOTE HIM OUT!


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Sunday, October 18, 2020

Sunday Drive: Ketelbey, In a Monastery Garden

An enduringly delightful work published in 1915 by English composer Albert Ketelbey (1875-1959).

 

Some prayers for anyone who may need them, from the Book of Common Prayer, 1928.  They don't have to be taken whole, you know; sometimes just a single lambent word or phrase can shine a spiritual light through the darkness that troubles us, and lead us homeward.
For Trustfulness.

O most loving Father, who willest us to give thanks for all things, to dread nothing but the loss of thee, and to cast all our care on thee, who carest for us; Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, and grant that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which thou hast manifested unto us in thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

O Heavenly Father, thou understandest all thy children; through thy gift of faith we bring our perplexities to the light of thy wisdom, and receive the blessed encouragement of thy sympathy, and a clearer knowledge of thy will. Glory be to thee for all thy gracious gifts. Amen.

For Joy in God's Creation.

O Heavenly Father, who hast filled the world with beauty; Open, we beseech thee, our eyes to behold thy gracious hand in all thy works; that rejoicing in thy whole creation, we may learn to serve thee with gladness; for the sake of him by whom all things were made, thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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Friday, October 16, 2020

What I'm Watching: Hacking Democracy (2006)

The other day, I just happened to come across this chilling, eye-opening documentary, which shows how easily American elections can be - and have been - stolen, ought to be required viewing for all Americans.  (Caution:  may be anxiety-producing.)

Ever since the dawn of the Digital Age more than 20 years ago, your Head Trucker has always thought that electronic voting machines and ballot-counting machines are simply and obviously an invitation to electoral fraud, and furthermore, that the only verifiable voting method is by paper ballot.  It takes no technical expertise to see that, only common sense.

I am gratified to see that some experts are now - just three weeks before the election - speaking out and saying these very things I have been saying to anyone who would listen all these many years.  (See links below.)  

Programmable, hackable machines should never have been used to record or count votes in any election.  And it's far too late now to change the system for this year's election.  I expect many challenges on both sides to the initial returns, and who knows how long it will be until the nation has a bona fide tally of the votes in all states.  We are used to knowing the winner by the next morning at the latest - but these are not normal times.

Be that as it may, we have to do what we can do, and not worry about what we can't.  Because if we don't vote, the result is certain, and abominable.

 NBC News: How to Make the Election Trustworthy, 10/13/20 

 PBS News Hour: What Election Officials Think about Paper Ballots and Voting Machines, 10/14/20


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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Rick Steves: For the Love of America, Vote

A timely message from travel writer and enthusiast Rick Steves:
  
 Excerpt from the video summary: 
As a traveler and a student of history, I've seen how strong societies can fray. And I fear for our democracy. It’s more fragile than we realize. And it is at risk.

That's why, this year, I believe our choice is more fundamental than partisanship. Four years ago, Donald Trump pledged to "Make America Great Again." When I survey our national life today, it's clear to me that we've lost so much more than we've gained in that time.

If we truly want to make America great again, we need to elect Joe Biden to the White House on November 3. Please join me.


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Monday, October 12, 2020

Predicting the Next President

Allan Lichtman, professor of history at American University in Washington, D. C., has accurately predicted every presidential election winner since 1980, often a year or two before the election, based on his analysis of 13 political, economic, and social criteria he calls the "keys to the White House." 

In this New York Times video produced in August 2020, you can find out who Prof. Lichtman thinks will win the election next month, and why.
  

What I Say:  Your Head Trucker reminds you that in this mortal life, nothing at all is certain until it happens.  There' s many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip, as the old saying goes.  You remember that in 2016 all signs, apart from Prof. Lichtman's, were go for a win by Hillary - and look what happened.  

Furthermore, in 2000, the prof did correctly predict that Gore would win the popular vote - but chicanery in Florida threw the election to Bush.  What do you think are the chances of political chicanery in this election?

I do feel the Democrats will prevail in this election - but feelings are not facts.  It ain't over till it's over.  So keep your fingers crossed, watch out for tricks, and VOTE!

  Biden Harris logo


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Thursday, October 8, 2020

What I'm Watching: Building a Log Cabin

Townsends YouTube channel is a cornucopia of fascinating videos all about life in 18th-century colonial America, including lots of recipes about cooking over a campfire, on a hearth, or in a homemade oven.

But lately I've been engrossed in watching the building of an honest-to-God log cabin from the ground up, using only 18th-century tools and a lot of elbow grease.  Of course I've known all my life the general idea of how such things were put together - but it's different watching it go up log by log.  

Even if you're not into living off the grid - and your Head Trucker is certainly not about to try such a damnfool thing - you might learn something from these vids.  I've selected four out of the playlist of 20 to share with my truckbuddies here. So get a move on, boys, and get your cabin ready for winter!





Your Head Trucker loves the sound of David Cadle's voice in this last video - that's the authentic sound of the past.  Awesome beard, too.  And pretty blue eyes.  


Bonus:  At the end of the day, how are you gonna feed all those hungry, hairy, sweaty men?  No problem.  While they're working on the cabin, you could be building an oven out of mud and straw.  When the sun goes down, they'll love your hot buns.

 


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Thursday, October 1, 2020

Our Rendezvous with Destiny

Treason is afoot in the land.  The New York Times sounds the alarm this morning:

Click to enlarge.

And Politico reports:  "Former national security adviser H.R. McMaster said Thursday that President Donald Trump is 'aiding and abetting' Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to sow doubt about the American electoral system."

McMaster expressed himself at length in this interview with MSNBC today:


But of course all this is old news - here's a front page of the New York Daily News two years ago:


You know, 55 percent of non-voters in the 2016 election were Democrats, according to the Pew Research Center.  I'm praying that Democrats will turn out this year in overwhelming numbers so that the election results cannot possibly be challenged.  It's all up to us, fellas - now is the time to overthrow the dictatorship that has already begun.  This is the last chance to stop it - our generation's rendezvous with destiny.  

I was never asked to shed my blood for this country that I love - but I will certainly give my vote.  We are fortunate here in Texas that the state allows walk-in early voting during most of October, 7 days a week in our county.  M.P. and I have already made our plan for when and where to vote.  Have you?

An excerpt from Franklin D. Roosevelt's speech before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on June 27, 1936 - a masterpiece of Democratic and democratic ideals, well worth reading in full:

There is a mysterious cycle in human events. To some generations much is given. Of other generations much is expected. This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.

In this world of ours, in other lands there are some people, who, in times past, have lived and fought for freedom, and seem to have grown too weary to carry on the fight. They have sold their heritage of freedom for the illusion of a living. They have yielded their democracy.

I believe in my heart that only our success can stir their ancient hope. They begin to know that here in America we are waging a great and successful war. It is not alone a war against want and destitution and economic demoralization. It is more than that; it is a war for the survival of democracy. We are fighting to save a great and precious form of government for ourselves and for the world.

I accept the commission you have tendered me. I join with you. I am enlisted for the duration of the war.


Bonus, 10/2/20, 6 a.m.:

Trump and Melania have come down with Covid-19.

What a coincidence.  A perfect excused absence from all other debates.  Which his team surely realizes would only turn off more voters.

Don't be too quick to feel sorry for him.  He has LIED about everything else in the last four years, why not his own health?  Such a convenient excuse to hole up in his bunker and avoid the press and public till Election Day.

Very clever.  But not, I think, clever enough to fool the American people - the sane majority, that is.


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