Archive for January 2021

Blogging Update–January 27, 2021   Leave a comment

SUNDRY THOUGHTS is one of seven weblogs I maintain.  I am focusing primarily on two of those weblogs these days.  Those weblogs are ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS and BLOGA THEOLOGICA.  I expect to be done adding new material to ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS for a while in early February.  I plan, however, to continue adding new content to BLOGA THEOLOGICA after early February.

Last July, I created a spreadsheet–a guide to reading the First, Second, and Fourth Books of the Maccabees together and intelligibly.  I worked on a chronological basis and noticed parallel readings.  I started drafting posts based on that plan yesterday.

I off you, O reader, a nugget from a first draft in longhand.  Stoic philosophy permeates 4 Maccabees.  Accordingly, that book proclaims the virtue of “devout wisdom,” which facilitates self-control, justice, and courage.  Devout wisdom controls the negative emotions, which work against self-control, justice, and courage, 4 Maccabees says at the beginning.  

Consider social media, O reader.  They (“Media” is the plural form of “medium.”) do not encourage self-control.  They do not encourage reason.  No, they encourage emotions, usually the negative ones.  That is how the corporate owners of social media platforms make money.  Social media are symptoms, not the cause, of much that ails societies today.  They are certainly agents of social discord much of the time.  We human beings come with some programming; evolutionary psychology explains that.  But we are also intelligent beings with free will.  We can decide what kind of people we want to be.

I want to cultivate the fruit of self-control, justice, and courage, for the glory of God and for the common good.  I want to cultivate the fruit of self-control, justice, and courage because I should do that.

Finally, on a different topic, I will return to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days eventually.  Maybe I will do so shortly after my Maccabees reading project.  I have a massive Bible study project–reading through the Hebrew prophets, on a roughly chronological basis–planned.  I may decide to defer that project until later this year.  I am getting ready to return to the study of the lives of holy men and women.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 27, 2021 COMMON ERA

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The Worst and Most Dangerous President of the United States of America   Leave a comment

Above:  The Seal of the President

Image in the Public Domain

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Donald Trump was the worst and the most dangerous President of the United States of America.

Before I elaborate on that statement, I offer some preliminary thoughts.  My training is in historical methodology.  My operational bias is, in almost all circumstances, to let time pass before I make historical conclusions.  The main difference between journalism and history is temporal perspective.  History is the interpretation of the past, based on documentary evidence.  (Writing is the difference between prehistory and history.)  I suspect that the United States is in the process of political realignment and the creation of the Eighth Party System.  I cannot assert that argument yet, for I need to let a sufficient amount of time pass first.  I need to see the results of a few elections, spread out over at least a decade.  I need to see if the Republican Party will split and what it will become, too.

I have long been a student of the American Presidency.  I can recite the Presidents in order, with dates and party affiliations.  I have also taught myself the names and sequence of Vice Presidents.  

I rank a few Presidents (mostly from the 1800s) at the bottom of the barrel.  These are, in chronological order:

  1. John Tyler (1841-1845),
  2. Millard Fillmore (1850-1853),
  3. Franklin Pierce (1853-1857),
  4. James Buchanan (1857-1861),
  5. Andrew Johnson (1865-1869), and
  6. Warren G. Harding (1921-1923).

Harding had enough self-awareness to admit in private, in the White House, that he was not fit for the Presidency.  He had more self-awareness than Donald Trump.

Richard Nixon (1969-1974) had many great accomplishments on his record.  Yet he engaged in criminal activities, had a dirty tricks squad, and prompted a constitutional crisis.  His attitude that whatever the President did was legal was antithetical to republican government, but not to Republican government.  (The same theory was prominent in the George W. Bush Administration.)  Nevertheless, Nixon had enough self-awareness to resign on August 9, 1974.

Despite my preference for letting time pass before arriving at certain historical conclusions, I have enough evidence to state confidently that Donald Trump was the worst and most dangerous President of the United States of America.

Donald Trump committed many varieties of official perfidy.  He sought to destroy democratic institutions.  He stirred up white supremacist violence.  He violated federal election tampering laws.  He violated election tampering laws in Georgia, my state.  He gutted essential expertise in the federal government.  He spread lies and debunked conspiracy theories daily.  He bungled the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic, costing many thousands of lives.  He cozied up to dictators and alienated democratic allies.  He ignored Russian bounties on the lives of U.S. servicemen in combat overseas.  Oh, and Trump launched an insurrection against the federal government on January 6, 2021.  If that is not an offense worthy of impeachment in the House of Representatives and conviction in the Senate, I do not know what is.

Even though the new Biden Administration has been exhibiting competence, as well as respect for democratic norms, we, as a nation-state, are not out of the woods yet.  Trump is properly vulnerable to criminal prosecution in multiple jurisdictions.  Nobody should be above the law, after all.  Trump is beginning to face his reckoning.  Yet Trump cultists continue to endanger the republic.  Trump is mortal, but his movement will outlive him.

President Biden wants to be an agent of national reconciliation.  I hope he can be.  The desire to be an empathetic reconciler is a necessary and laudable first step.  Biden has the grief and the empathy to function as an agent of national reconciliation during a time of national trauma.  He has buried a wife and two children.  And Biden is a decent man.  We, as a nation-state, need a Reconciler-in-Chief.  But Biden can be only as effective in this role as other people permit him to be.  And many people are not ready for reconciliation.

President Biden has a very difficult job; he has to be the shovel brigade for the ultimate elephant.  I pray for him and do not envy him.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Donald Trump’s Dangerous and Criminal Behavior Should Not Surprise Anyone.   Leave a comment

IT IS OLD NEWS.

Donald Trump has taught me a lesson:  He can always go lower.  He can always be more despicable and dangerous to the republic.  The son of a bitch, who sent the domestic terrorists to invade the United States Capitol Building and staged an insurrection, enjoyed watching footage of the ransacking of that structure.  That bastard tried to call United States Senators, holed up in a secure location during the invasion of the Capitol Building, to try to ask them to overturn the election results.  Even then, Trump cared about himself, not the country.

Trump caring about himself, not the country, is old news.  Trump spreading dangerous and discredited conspiracy theories is old news.  Trump inciting violence is old news.  Trump feeding off hatred is old news.  Trump being a bully is old news.  Trump having dictatorial tendencies is old news.  It was old news in 2016.  

But don’t blame me.  I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.  I tried to prevent this.

Despite old news, recent news, and current events, many Republicans, including a host of members of the United States Congress, remains loyal to Trump.  The Republican Party, in its current state, is a death cult of personality.  Those principled conservatives, the Never Trumpers, were always on the margins of the party.  

The United States of America has long had a two-party system.  The labels and substance of the parties have changed over time, but the number of major parties has usually been two.  This country has done well when both major parties have been sane, rational, and grounded in objective reality.  Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said that all people are entitled to their own opinions yet not their own facts.  The Trump Administration has fed off what Kellyanne Conway called, in Orwellian terms, “alternative facts.”  

Objective reality is what it is.  Disagreeing with it is not a political virtue.  Political parties may legitimately differ regarding what the facts mean, but not about what the facts are. 

Here is a fact terribly inconvenient for Donald Trump.  Even if he pardons himself or Mike Pence pardons him, that pardon will not shield Trump from prosecution (for other crimes) in the State of New York.  Trump uses the rhetoric of law and order yet seeks shelter from the law while he violates law.  I do not buy what he is selling.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 9, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Enablers of Trumpism   2 comments

Or, If the White Bed Sheets Fit, ….

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.

–James Baldwin

Just as Joseph McCarthy latched onto what became known as McCarthyism and became its leader, Donald Trump latched onto what became known as Trumpism and became its leader.

Both -isms, their followers, and their leaders have much in common, not the least of which are:

  1. disregard for objective reality,
  2. demagoguery, and
  3. contempt for American democratic institutions.

Trump is a menace to the American republic.  So are all those who have enabled him and continue to do so.  They make his menace possible.  To liken them to people protesting police brutality, especially against people of color, is to make a false equivalency.    To make that false equivalency is to ignore the menace enablers of Trump and Trumpism continue to pose to the republic and to turn a blind eye to their character.  And to liken domestic terrorists who invaded the United States Capitol Building to people protesting police violence against people of color is morally offensive.

I have no interest in trying to understand the grievances of enablers of Trump and Trumpism.  I have no desire to listen to their complaints and to attempt to reason with them.  I leave that exercise in attempting to reason with the unreasonable to those who seek to follow in the footsteps of James Baldwin.

If the white bed sheets fit, enablers of Trumpism should wear them.

How is that for being direct?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 8, 2021 COMMON ERA

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25   Leave a comment

Yesterday, a mob Donald Trump encouraged invaded the United States Capitol Building.  They attacked police officers, assaulted representative government, vandalized that building, and behaved in ways that give aid and comfort to enemies of representative government around the world.  Trump said of these vandals that he loves them.

I call for the immediate application of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.  Trump has always been dangerous, but he has become increasingly perilous since November.  He is too dangerous to remain the Commander-in-Chief and to have the nuclear codes for two more weeks.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 7, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Posted January 7, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Political Statements 2021

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Treason   3 comments

Donald Trump cares about himself.  He cares about retaining power.  The rest of us are mere pawns to him.  He demands personal loyalty in lieu of loyalty to the Constitution of the United States.

Trump is a traitor, and the Republican Party has become his cult of personality.  Many principles conservatives have, to their credit, spoken out against him and his authoritarian–fascist–tendencies.

Trump incited supporters, who believe his lies and conspiracy theories, to act today.  Some of them stormed the U.S. Capitol Building today.

I live in the United States of America.  I do not live in a banana republic.  Or do I, at least until Noon on January 20?

He that troubleth his own house shall inherit the wind….

–Proverbs 11:29a

In this case, the house is the United States of America.  Trump is troubling his own house.  He will inherit the wind.

That much is too much for him to inherit.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 6, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Posted January 6, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Political Statements 2021

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Disregard for the Electoral Process   Leave a comment

I dare anyone–especially a supporter of Donald Trump–to defend this statement Trump made to Brad Raffensperger, the Secretary of State of Georgia, via telephone yesterday:

So, look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have. Because we won the state.

This is shameful behavior.

Raffensperger, by the way, is doing his job well and honestly.  He is behaving as an honorable public servant.  I disclose that I did not vote for him.  (His name was on my ballot in 2018, but I voted for his Democratic opponent.)  I also believe in giving credit where it is due.

The fate of the republic is at stake.  Trump’s recorded words add to the mountain of evidence of his terrible character and his disregard for democratic norms.  He is a menace to the republic.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 3, 2021 COMMON ERA

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The full audio of the conversation is here.

The full transcript is here.

An interview with Secretary Raffensperger is here.

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Posted January 3, 2021 by neatnik2009 in Political Statements 2021

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