Sunday, December 1, 2019

Sunday Globe Saving Grace

How $weet the $ound:

"Trump’s evangelical support mystifies his critics, but in Wisconsin, it looks stronger than ever" by Jess Bidgood

NEW LONDON, Wis.—Linda Behm is an evangelical Christian and keeps a calendar filled with volunteer shifts at a thrift store and a food pantry in this small community an hour away from Green Bay. She wasn’t sure about supporting Donald J. Trump, the New York business magnate with a penchant for insults and crude behavior, but after asking God whether she should back him or Democrat Hillary Clinton in the general election, she decided Trump was the lesser of two evils.

She feels better than ever about her decision to vote for the president, because she thinks he has delivered on the two issues she cares most about: curtailing abortion rights and protecting Israel. Behm expects to vote for Trump again in 2020. “He’s our only choice,” she said.

In 2016, Trump’s alliance with white evangelical voters was obvious — 80 percent of white, self-identified born-again or evangelical Christians supported him, according to exit polls — but, for some of those voters, it was also uneasy. The president’s personal behavior and some of his core political beliefs, including his hostility toward refugees, seem at odds with the major moral tenets of Christianity. What’s more, many of his evangelical supporters weren’t exactly sure what they were getting from a nominee who was neither deeply religious nor a lifelong Republican and who described himself some years ago as “very pro-choice.”

Three years, later, Trump’s bond with evangelicals has proven to be remarkably resilient. After a Democratic presidency that left some evangelical voters feeling besieged, many have come to see Trump as a defender of religious liberty, a champion of conservative judges, and a brake on the advances of abortion and transgender rights.

White evangelicals back Trump more fiercely than other religious or unaffiliated groups, and, in one poll, 99 percent of white evangelical Republicans oppose his impeachment and removal. White evangelicals make up about 17 percent of Wisconsin’s voters; in a state Trump won in 2016 only by 23,000 votes, their steadfast support could be the difference between winning and losing next year.

Trump’s appeal among evangelicals mystifies his critics, yet Behm’s community and church offer a window into how he has consolidated their support. New London, a city of 7,000 straddling two counties that backed Ted Cruz in the 2016 primary, did not immediately warm to Trump, and Behm’s church here is not particularly political, but voters here said they have come to view the president as an unlikely savior for a country they felt was morally broken and hostile to Christians like them — even though some admit their personal reservations about him have only grown.

“We’re hiring a president, we’re not hiring the pastor of a church,” said Chris Martinson, 68, a hardwood lumber wholesaler who is a strong Trump supporter. “We’re hiring someone to lead our country in a tough battle. It’s not always going to be pretty.”

There are times when Ellen Martinson wishes her husband would leave his bright red “Trump 2020” hat at home, even though she supports the president, too. “Some people will see it, and they already judge you before they know you,” she said with a sigh, but to Chris Martinson, the hat, along with the cross around his neck, is a way of sparking conversation with fellow Trump supporters. He did not always feel so devoted to Trump. Martinson’s initial favorite in the 2016 primary field was Ben Carson, a Seventh-day Adventist who is open about his deep Christian faith. After that campaign sputtered, he drove all over town putting up signs for Cruz, hopeful that the evangelical senator from Texas would protect his values.

Martinson, like many other evangelical Christians, was ready to turn the page on the Obama administration, a period when gay rights and transgender rights expanded. He worried Christians who did not agree with those expansions would be marginalized, citing a famous case of Colorado bakers who were sued when they refused to make a cake for a gay wedding.

“It seems like right now, there’s a movement to try to purge people who have traditional Christian values, that don’t accept more modern definitions of marriage . . . that don’t accept things like that there should be a special set of rights for transgender [people],” Martinson said.

Martinson has considered himself evangelical since about 1991. He supported Democrat Dick Gephardt for president in 1988 “because he was for tough borders” and Martinson held local office as a Democrat in the 1990s, but has since transformed into a committed conservative activist for whom politics and faith are irrevocably entwined. There are, however, some signs of trouble for Trump’s relationship with evangelicals. His decision to pull American troops out of Syria — where they supported Kurdish fighters who have protected Christian minorities in the region — drew rare rebukes from evangelical leaders.....

He is "protecting" the oil so what is their beef?


Beep, beep!

"Driving is surging in Massachusetts. Gas tax revenue? Not so much" by Adam Vaccaro Globe Staff, November 30, 2019

For public officials around the nation looking to fix beat-up roads and bridges or buy new buses and subway cars, it’s one of the most reliable turns in the playbook: Raise the gas tax and watch the money flow in, but as the Massachusetts Legislature prepares to debate a massive fix to the state’s beleaguered transportation system — one that could include a stiff increase in the gas tax — they might take note that it may not be such a reliable source of revenue for much longer.

Given the state of traffic on pretty much any day of the week, one would think the state would be rolling in money from the gas tax, and true, collections were at an all-time high last fiscal year — about $675 million, but that’s not much more than the $658 million the state collected between July 2014 and June 2015. Meanwhile, the rate of driving in Massachusetts since around then has surged by at least 8.9 percent, according to data the state reports to the federal government.

WhereTF is all the money going?

The erosion of gas tax collections is only going to accelerate with the emergence of electric cars. They’re still in their advent around Massachusetts, but while sales remain modest, they are accelerating fast, almost doubling in a single year, to around 9,000 in 2018, according to the Association of Global Automakers.

Moreover, officials in Massachusetts have outlined a goal to end the sale of gas-powered vehicles in the state by 2040, and auto manufacturers seem increasingly close to breaking into the mass market with new models of electric cars — from the midpriced Tesla sedan to Ford’s debut of a new electric Mustang muscle car.

“The electric cars are getting better, there’s more charging, people are getting more comfortable with electric,” said Craig Carlson, a Boston-based automotive consultant.

Carlson predicted that by 2025, electric vehicles may be popular enough to be a drag on gas tax collections. Time wise, that’s not far away for a state Legislature that has often let years go by between major transportation initiatives.

Right now, there aren’t a lot of viable alternatives to the gas tax in use. Oregon has a program that charges car owners by the mile — currently 1.7 cents; participants volunteer to be in the program and receive a credit on the fuel taxes they pay through the year. Utah is launching a pilot program that will waive annual registration fees for owners of electric and hybrid vehicles and instead charge them 1.5 cents for every mile they drive.

It's a never-ending money grab with the agenda-pu$hing Globe $tepping on the a¢¢elerator.

Efforts to undertake similar experiments have waxed and waned in Massachusetts. Even so, local transit advocates and business leaders note that an increase in the gas tax would still raise gobs of money upfront, crucial for a state with a public transit system that has a seemingly inexhaustible amount of repairs and upgrades to make.

Yeah, let's pour more tax money down a rathole.

Other funding initiatives may be more productive in the long term, they say, but would not immediately generate the money they believe the roads and rails need right now. Most estimates show that every 1-cent increase to the gas tax would raise an additional $30 million in revenue.

“Yes, the world is going to look different in 30 years,” said Chris Dempsey, director of the nonprofit Transportation for Massachusetts, but, “the reason to raise the gas tax isn’t to face a 30-year issue. It’s to face an issue today.”

A gas tax hike was widely expected to be a major component in a House of Representatives initiative to generate new transportation revenue this fall, but House leaders delayed action until at least this winter as members struggled to finalize a plan.

Key lawmakers in the House were not available for comment last week.

Aren't they all on vacation somewhere warm?

The last gas tax increase, in 2013, was the first adjustment in two decades. At the time, lawmakers also indexed the tax to the rate of inflation so it would rise automatically, but voters repealed that aspect of the law a year later. Since then, gas tax receipts have risen at less than the rate of inflation, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Massachusetts has the 31st highest gas tax in the country, according to the Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C., tax policy nonprofit.

In other words, you can afford more!

The falling value of the gas tax has also been a concern of those who study transportation at the federal level. The national gas tax has remained at the same level since 1993, and economists have cited increasing fuel efficiency as a reason to explore other ways to fund roads, such as through tolls or mileage-based fees.....

You can't win either way, citizen con$umer!


I'm already running out of gas.

Here is where the tank hit empty:

Boston’s Chinatown is poised on a precipice

The historically ethnic enclave is endangered!

In academia, there’s a caste system for parents and it could backfire

Maybe you can get a loan and buy some jewelry (more than half of page A2 are ads for jewelry).


"Trump’s intervention in SEAL case tests Pentagon’s tolerance" by Dave Philipps, Helene Cooper, Maggie Haberman and Peter Baker New York Times, December 1, 2019

The violent encounter in a faraway land opened a two-year affair that would pit a Pentagon hierarchy wedded to longstanding rules of combat and discipline against a commander in chief with no experience in uniform but a finely honed sense of grievance against authority. The highest ranks in the Navy insisted Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher be held accountable. President Trump overruled the chain of command, and the secretary of the Navy was fired.

The case of the president and a commando accused of war crimes offers a lesson in how Trump presides over the armed forces three years after taking office. While he boasts of supporting the military, he has come to distrust the generals and admirals who run it. Rather than accept information from his own government, he responds to television reports that grab his interest. Warned against crossing lines, he bulldozes past precedent and norms.

The last guy who felt that way had his head blown off in broad daylight.

As a result, the president finds himself more removed from a disenchanted military command than ever, adding the armed forces to the institutions under his authority that he has feuded with, along with the intelligence community, law enforcement agencies, and diplomatic corps.

You mean the “deep state?”

The president’s handling of the case has distressed active-duty and retired officers and the civilians who work closely with them. Trump’s intervention, they said, emboldens war criminals and erodes the order of a professional military.

That's exactly what the founders worried about, and the failure to prosecute Bush regime officials set a horrible precedent.

Gallagher’s case was already simmering on the conservative talk show circuit when another service member, Major Matthew Golsteyn, an Army Green Beret, was charged last winter with killing an unarmed man linked to the Taliban in Afghanistan. On Dec. 16, barely minutes after a segment on “Fox & Friends,” Trump took to Twitter to say he would review the case, repeating language from the segment.

Thankfully, a cease fire is near.

Upset at what he sees as “Monday morning quarterbacking” of soldiers fighting a shadowy enemy where “second-guessing was deadly,” Pete Hegseth, the “Fox & Friends” host who has promoted Gallagher to the president on the telephone and on air, has for years defended troops charged with war crimes, including Gallagher, Golsteyn, and Lieutenant Clint Lorance, often appealing directly to the president on Fox News.

Hegseth found a ready ally in Trump. At the Pentagon, a conservative bastion where Fox News is the network of choice on office televisions, senior officials were aghast.....

I'm told it was a “shocking and unprecedented intervention in a low-level review,” but it is his prerogative as president, as distasteful as it may be. 


I guess Stanford Health Care won't be needed for the prisoner.

"Stephen Miller remains undaunted after leak of e-mails tying him to white nationalist talking points" by David Nakamura Washington Post, November 30

WASHINGTON — Stephen Miller’s track record as a key architect of many of the Trump administration’s most controversial immigration policies — including a ban on travelers from majority-Muslim countries and punitive actions against immigrants who receive public assistance — have in a sense inoculated him from attacks from fellow Republicans over his e-mails.

The president has used immigration to help to maintain a tight grip on the GOP base, and Republican lawmakers, even those who have supported more-moderate positions, have been reluctant to oppose him.

The e-mails illuminate Miller’s fixation on crimes committed by immigrants and people of color, as well as his eagerness to push narratives sourced from fringe white supremacist and conspiracy-theory websites such as VDARE and Infowars.

Miller touted story lines that echoed the far-right vision of ‘‘white genocide’’ — the extremist belief that immigration from nonwhite parts of the world poses an immediate and existential threat to the racial integrity of white people.

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham denounced the Southern Poverty Law Center as a ‘‘far-left smear organization,’’ and her deputy Hogan Gidley, citing Miller’s Jewish heritage, said Miller ‘‘loves this country and hates bigotry in all forms.’’

One you realize "they" are behind both extremes, the game becomes tiresome. The purpose is to funnel all "solutions" into acceptable realms whereby the chosen group will gain anywhere from 25 to 75 percent of what they want, with the next round of negotiations and givebacks predicated on the last round.

Republicans have largely avoided the matter, declining to comment on the disclosures.....

I think they understand that to comment on it invites more attention to the disclosures in an exposé of leaked e-mails by a staffer sent before Trump was elected president in his private correspondence with a reporter at the far-right Breitbart News that comes from the Southern Poverty Law Center that has prompted scores of Democratic lawmakers and civil rights groups to publicly demand Miller's resignation over what they view as smoking-gun evidence that the Trump administration’s hard-line immigration policies are rooted in white nationalist ideologies.

That reminds me. No coverage of the smoking gun of impeachment in my Sunday Globe today.


Related: Why was the citizenship question added?

It's a New York Times whodunit! 

Couldn't help but notice the ad for fur coats before flipping the page and finding a full-page Total Wine ad.


A Pennsylvania county’s Election Day nightmare underscores voting machine concerns

You can put them in the blue column in 2020.

Fiat Chrysler, auto union reach tentative deal on contract

Maybe Trump keeps Michigan?

"Wintry weather bedeviled Thanksgiving weekend travelers across the United States Saturday as a powerful and dangerous storm moved eastward, dumping heavy snow from parts of California to the northern Midwest....."

They are talking blizzard conditions along with a new storm that is expected to bring California several feet of mountain snow, rain, and gusty winds through the weekend and another system that is forecast to develop in the mid-Atlantic Sunday, moving as a nor’easter into Monday so I'm going to quickly work this this post and batten down the hatches for the day.

Maybe put on some music:

"Navajo country music pays tribute to ‘Indian cowboys’ and outlaw legends" by Simon Romero New York Times, November 30, 2019

SHIPROCK, N.M. — At highway honky-tonks, casino lounges, and far-flung dance halls, a form of music that many associate with rural white America is flourishing in the heart of Native American country. Dozens of bands vie for shows on the circuit each week, reflecting how one of the largest US tribes is shattering long-held stereotypes of “cowboys and Indians.”

This reshuffling of identities is part of country music’s malleable reach around the world, as country scenes prosper in places as varied as Brazil, Iran, and Kenya.

One factor nurturing the music’s vibrancy here is the sheer size of the Navajo Nation, spreading over 27,000 square miles in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. The Diné, as many Navajo prefer to call themselves, number more than 330,000 on reservation lands and beyond.

Such numbers provide critical mass for a musical culture that reflects both life within the reservation and in surrounding “border towns.” Defining just what constitutes Navajo country music depends on who’s talking. Generally speaking, the genre draws from a canon by country legends including Merle Haggard and Buck Owens — more tilted, perhaps, to the Southwest than Nashville — sometimes blending Diné phrases into the songs.

Teachers, sheep ranchers, construction workers, and others with day jobs make up most bands. They largely play covers, paying tribute not just to outlaw country singers but to legendary Diné country bands the Wingate Valley Boys and the Navajo Sundowners.....


Maybe Trump takes New Mexico this time.

Of course, there are other things you can do to stay warm:

1 year later, mystery surrounds China’s gene-edited babies

I'm told China’s official news agency said an investigation had determined that He (sic) acted alone out of a desire for fame and would be punished for any violations of law, and that the AP and others have reported on additional scientists in the US and China who knew or strongly suspected what He (sic) was doing.

A jewelry and a gutter ad on the same page before flipping to a full-page window ad promoting Cyber Monday.


Iraqi prime minister resigns in deepening political crisis

That the target is Iran tips the hand of the covert destabilization effort that is now active across the Shia crescent.

A to zythum in 125 years

The New York Times might as well be in Latin for all I care.

London Bridge attacker was a convicted terrorist who plotted to blow up British landmarks, police say

This is about the fourth false flag on the bridge with another known patsy as perpetrator, and as the deadly knife attack unfolded, a man, described in news reports as a Polish chef, grabbed the nearest arms he could find for self-defense — a narwhal tusk — and headed to help stop the melee.

Thank God, huh?


"In Venezuela’s schools, teachers flee for other jobs, students faint from hunger" by Anatoly Kurmanaev and Isayen Herrera New York Times, November 30, 2019

BOCA DE UCHIRE, Venezuela — Venezuela’s devastating six-year economic crisis is hollowing out the school systemonce the pride of the oil-rich nation and, for decades, an engine that made the country one of the most upwardly mobile in the region. These schools once provided children even in remote areas with a solid shot at the country’s best universities, which in turn opened doors to top US schools and a place among Venezuela’s elite.

That's $ociali$m when it i$n't $anctioned to death?

Hunger is just one of the many problems chipping away at them now. Millions of Venezuelans have fled the country in recent years, depleting the ranks of students and teachers alike. Many of the educators who remain have been driven from the profession, their wages made nearly worthless by years of relentless hyperinflation. In some places, barely 100 students show up at schools that once taught thousands.

I'm so glad the New York Times has picked up the gauntlet for Venezuelans.

The collapse of the education system in Venezuela is not only condemning an entire generation to poverty but risks setting the country’s development back decades and severely stunting its growth potential, experts and teachers say.

“You can’t educate skeletal and hungry people,” said Maira Marín, a teacher and union leader in Boca de Uchire.

“An entire generation is being left behind,” said Luis Bravo, an education researcher at the Central University of Venezuela in Caracas. “Today’s education system doesn’t allow children to become meaningful members of society.”

Much like the indoctrination and inculcation that is called education in the U.S.

The government stopped publishing education statistics in 2014, but visits to more than a dozen schools in five Venezuelan states and interviews with dozens of teachers and parents indicate that attendance has plummeted this year.

Many schools are shuttering in the once-prosperous nation as malnourished children and teachers abandon classrooms to scratch out a living on the streets or flee abroad.

It is a major embarrassment for the self-proclaimed socialist government, which has long preached social inclusion. The situation is in sharp contrast to countries that Venezuelan leaders have held up as role models — Cuba and Russia — both of which have managed to shelter the primary education system from the worst effects of a comparable downturn in the 1990s.

Students began skipping school in Venezuela shortly after President Nicolas Maduro came to power in 2013. Some Venezuelan children are staying home because many schools have stopped providing meals or because their parents can no longer afford uniforms, school utensils, or bus fares. Others have joined parents in one of the world’s biggest displacement crises: About 4 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2015, according to the United Nations.

Do the parents have to pay for the $port$ programs like here?

The kids started skipping school because of Madura, not because they were inspired by Global Warming Greta?

To keep schools going, the remaining teachers often teach all of the subjects or combine different school years in one classroom.....


I'm told faintings have become a regular occurrence at the primary schools, and the article is followed by seven pages worth of death notices.

RelatedTime to call the ‘fantastic grandmothers’

Maybe the Venezuelans can eat the sea snakes? 


Judge rules Boston immigration court’s detention hearings violated due process

Officials warn those traveling Sunday: Head out early

I'm told the storm is expected to begin about noon Sunday and stretch into Tuesday morning, and that it could dump up to a foot or more where I am.

Better get on my horse and go shopping:

Through his descendants, the legacy of Paul Revere gallops on

Small Business Saturday shoppers pack neighborhood stores

Here is a bag of briefs:

Swastika found on elementary school
Man facing OUI charge in two crashes
Hundreds attend funeral of WW II vet
Three Catholic parishes could merge
Stores report spate of fake $100 bills

Time to head home:

Connecticut lawmakers, governor expected to continue transportation talks

Well, this post is now history. I'm out of Ideas and am of the opinion that things have come full circle.