Sympathy for the sulphuric

In this part of the world coal exists in abundance, or at least did until we mined the shit out of it, and where there’s coal, there’s usually the Whiff of Sulphur.

The mineral permeates the water tables, and since we’re all on well water, the evil-smelling Whiff of Sulphur slithers in through open taps and toilets and washing machines and makes buildings smell like the finish line at a bean-eating marathon, at least to those unaccustomed to it.   I’m lucky: my home has a deep well and the water is generally untainted by sulphur.  (Or maybe I just don’t notice it anymore, eh?)   But my workplace is more typical:  a shallow well means the Whiff of Sulphur is strongly evident upon entry, which is where I am usually situated.  This being a tourist area, it’s not unusual for someone unfamiliar with the Sulphur Problem to enter the store, wrinkle their nose and cast a quick accusing glance in my direction.  I roll my eyes and shrug helplessly.

So when I heard about Michael Ignatieff’s remark that Canadians could “smell the whiff of sulphur” emanating from Stephen Harper, I thought “What are you, ten years old?”  I had forgotten that the Whiff of Sulphur is associated with… the devil. Which is not that far up the maturity scale from saying Stevie smells like farts, but never mind.  The comment threw the National Post into a fifth-gear frenzy of indignance and outrage that prompted the ejaculation of several articles on the topic, including yesterday’s front-pager:

Yes!  Yesterday was the time at the NatPo when they juxtaposed! You can see where they’re going with this sympathetic bracketing of an evil-looking Count Igula with Harpie’s rapt, um, one might even be tempted to say “angelic”, heavenward gaze. But it could also be Iggy snarling “Eww, who farted?” while Harper rolls his eyes and shrugs helplessly and says “It was Cheddar!”

Take your pick.  I know how it looks to me.

42 Responses to “Sympathy for the sulphuric”


  1. 1 Brian Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    In this part of the world coal exists in abundance, or at least did until we mined the shit out of it, …

    It still exists in vast abundance in this corner of the planet.

     

    Man!  Associating a political rival with the devil is associating your rival with Hitler on steroids!  I just gotta believe that, when someone is willing to go that far, they are completely out of reasoned arguments, and are really, really desperate.

  2. 2 brebis noire Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Brian, would you say the same thing about the US evangelicals who call Obama the Antichrist, or an Antichrist type? (completely out of reasoned arguments, and really, really desperate?)

    Come on, evangelicals pretty much re-invented this political trope, at least since the 1980s.

    As for Ignatieff, he’s a very useful idiot for the Cons.

  3. 3 Bleatmop Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Iggy will go down as the second LPC leader that never became PM. He’ll also go down as the guy that gave Harper a majority. The only question is, will Trudeau immediately take the reigns of opposition leader (or 3rd party leader after the BQC) immediately after the coming election, or will he wait a couple years. Bets? Anyone?

  4. 4 Brian Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Brian, would you say the same thing about the US evangelicals who call Obama the Antichrist, or an Antichrist type? (completely out of reasoned arguments, and really, really desperate?)

    Instantly, completely and without reservation.

    Obama is inexperienced, incompetent in several categories, and is destroying the potential for a black man or woman to become president for some time to come.

    But he is certainly not the Antichrist, nor is he comparable to the Antichrist.  Anyone who thinks he is, doesn’t know what the Bible actually says a bout the Antichrist.  Anyone who does not think he is, but labels him as such is completely out of reasoned arguments, and really, really desperate.  There are so many valid complaints that can be made about him, why would anyone need to trot out Hitler of the Antichrist?!?

     

    Come on, evangelicals pretty much re-invented this political trope, at least since the 1980s.

    Not evangelicals.  Rather, the professional wrestlers of Christianity, the counterfeits who make their living on The Trinity Broadcast Network, et al.

  5. 5 deBeauxOs Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Brian: the expert on everything christian and more. What he doesn’t know he fabricates.

  6. 6 brebis noire Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Well Brian, you may be unaware of the works and influence of Francis Schaeffer, the evangelical “intellectual” behind much of the rise of evangelicalism since the 1980s. And since I’m overly familiar with the milieu, I know the multitudes of evangelicals to whom I refer. Many of whom will not call Obama an Antichrist type publicly (because they’ve cried wolf too many times before), but privately harbour their doubts. Somehow in their minds Obama is incompetent, while Bush was competent as US Prez. Now there’s some cognitive disconnect with reality.

    And your crack about race and gender is just bullshit. The 20th century is calling: it wants you back.

  7. 7 Bruce Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Intellectual fart jokes, that’s just freakin brilliant. That’s exactly what the Canadian political landscape needs right now.

    Can you tell I’m just a teensy disillusioned with Iggy right now?

    I have to say I wish he would go back to his ivory towers and pontificate, or whatever the hell he does. There is no contest in a cult of personality here, he actually makes Harper look like a nice man who relates to the populace. It takes a special kind of man to do that and that’s the last thing we need.

  8. 8 ck Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 2:46 am

    Bleatmop: He’ll also go down as the guy that gave Harper a majority.

    You’d better hope not. What happened after G20 is just a taste of Harpercon’s utopic society. Thus, it won’t matter who will be opposition and who will lead it. They might as well all pack up and go home. It will be quite the regime. Ever heard of de l’action, pas d’election? Here it is.

    I wish that were some copywriting stupidity, but it’s not.

    The video is in French, but the language is simple enough for most to understand the basic idea. Action; no election.

    Steve taking advantage of voters who whine about excercising their democratic right to vote by taking it away.

  9. 9 ck Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 2:50 am

    As for Iggy’s sulfuric remark; I’m thinking; what the hell took so long?

    Why chastise him for it?

    I seem to remember all of Steve’s attack ads? Anyone remember “Not a Leader” or “just visiting” or the doozy of all time that surpasses all; when he accused Paul Martin of being a child molester or at the very least, an amateur of kiddie porn?

    About bloody time he fought back.

  10. 10 JJ Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 6:05 am

    Brian

    I just gotta believe that, when someone is willing to go that far, they are completely out of reasoned arguments, and are really, really desperate.

    Well, it’s not quite on the level of carrying a poster with a Jokerized Harper face, but it’s in the same general area on the scale of reasonable, rational debate.

  11. 11 JJ Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 6:07 am

    Brebis

    evangelicals pretty much re-invented this political trope, at least since the 1980s.

    The difference is they really mean it, as opposed to Iggy who is joking (probably).

  12. 12 JJ Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 6:09 am

    Bleatmop

    The only question is, will Trudeau immediately take the reigns of opposition leader

    I hope not. Justin is nice, he has good hair, but he’s no Pierre.

  13. 13 JJ Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 6:18 am

    Brian

    Obama is inexperienced, incompetent in several categories, and is destroying the potential for a black man or woman to become president for some time to come.

    Obama’s biggest mistake to date has been using the word “bipartisanship”. But whether one considers him a failure (18 months into his presidency 😆 ) or a success, I don’t see how he’s hindered the future political fortunes of minorities or women.

  14. 14 JJ Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 6:29 am

    Bruce – Remember when we were kids and we were “searching for our identity”? That’s sort of what Iggy reminds me of, someone who hasn’t really figured out who he is yet, so he’s trying out all these different styles. And some of them are pretty dumb.

    This dumbed-down “Harper is the devil” discourse just looks foolish and desperate, especially coming from someone who is known to be kind of an intellectual type. Canadians aren’t fooled by it.

    Jean Chretien got away with grabbing people by the throat because at heart he was a little thug, and we loved him for it. Everyone has their own style, Iggy needs to stick with his and be a Smart Guy. If Canadians don’t warm to him, that’s life.

  15. 15 JJ Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 6:41 am

    ck

    Steve taking advantage of voters who whine about excercising their democratic right to vote by taking it away.

    On the contrary: Harper has dared the opposition to actually do their job and oppose the legislation he’s been ramming through (thereby prompting an election) many times. If anyone is keeping Canadians from voting, it’s the opposition.

    I’m not sure what “de l’action, pas d’election” means. “Of the action, not for the election”? Maybe you could enlighten me.

    About bloody time he fought back.

    If this is his idea of “fighting back”, I look forward to seeing his jokerized Harper face T-shirt.

    Iggy has a brain, he should try acting like it. Contrary to what some liberals seem to think, most Canadians aren’t dumbasses.

  16. 16 southern quebec Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Brian:
    “Obama is inexperienced, incompetent in several categories, and is destroying the potential for a black man or woman to become president for some time to come.”

    This is such a silly statement. Generalizing like “Wow, we had a black President once and it didn’t work out. Never again!”

    Using this “logic”, after GWB there would never be a white male Yale “graduate” in the White House! Sheesh.

  17. 17 Brian Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 11:31 am

    brebis noire,

    … many of whom will not call Obama an Antichrist type publicly (because they’ve cried wolf too many times before), but privately harbour their doubts.

          Evangelicals who know their Bible know that the Antichrist must be a Roman, along with many other specifications.   They would know that Obama simply does not fit the bill.   There are, of course, superstitious Christians (who, for instance, are afraid of the number 666 on license plates, et al., and who keep a Bible unopened on their bedside table, thinking it will keep them safe), just as there are superstitious scientists, and superstitious teachers, etc.   They get a lot of publicity, but that does not translate to knowing anything about the main body of evangelicals.

     

    Somehow in their minds Obama is incompetent . . .

          “Somehow?!?”   You have gotto be kidding me!   He is well on track to be the worst president in the history of the US.

     

    Somehow in their minds Obama is incompetent, while Bush was competent as US Prez.  Now there’s some cognitive disconnect with reality.

          Bush had his strong points & his failures.   But he was a much better president than Obama has been so far (I say “so far” because Obama still has time to turn things around).
          But beyond that, what is it going to take to start seeing Obama for what he is, rather than merely what he is not, that is, that he is not Bush?   It really is long since time for him to stand or fall on his own merits.

     

    And your crack about race and gender is just bullshit. The 20th century is calling: it wants you back.

          It wasn’t a “crack,” it was an observation, and a speculation.   I struggled about what to say.   In this statement, “Obama is . . . destroying the potential for a black man or woman to become president for some time to come,” that noun “a black man or woman,” was what I struggled with.   If I’d said “ . . . for a black to become . . .” I was thinking I’d be accused of seeing black people as being simply the sum total of their skin color.   Given the ratio of shoulder chips to shoulders here, I was sure if I’d used that which used to be a generic, “ . . . for a black man to become . . .” I’d be vilified for omitting women.   So I tried to come up with a more inclusive noun.
          As I was waiting to fall asleep last night after having turned out the lights, and was thinking about your posting “and your crack about race & gender,” I realized perhaps a less awkward wording would’ve been “ . . . for a black person to become . . .”
          But my meaning’s the same in all of these wordings.   It wasn’t a crack, it was an attempt to navigate the minefield here.

          35 years ago, while staying with friends, I found a rabbit haunch in their freezer.   I’d never had rabbit, so I asked them if I could cook it & eat it, to which they said yes.   But the meat had rotted, and as I cooked it, it filled the house with the smell of rotted rabbit.   To this day, when I smell fresh, cooked rabbit, I am nauseated a bit, because there is a similarity between the odors.
          We (humans) have really long term memories for painful experiences, or for experiences that sicken us.   This is a trait that increases survival.   That behavior carries over into other behavior, albeit somewhat attenuated.   For instance if someone you know insults you really good & proper one time, your feelings toward them are modified for a really long time.   Even if their attack was based on them having faulty info, and they apologize earnestly once they know the real facts, that experience sticks with you.
          Obama’s skin color was a huge issue during the campaign, as his supporters called anyone who thought he would not be a good choice for president a racist.   Indeed, Janeane Garofalo currently says that those who oppose Obama’s policies, or find fault with the job he’s doing are racists, “straight up.”   A really liberal friend of mine who has known me long enough to know very well that I do not behave toward blacks any differently than toward whites or any other skin color, in his bid to try to increase Obama’s chances, sent me an email that included the entreaty, “Don’t be afraid to put a black man in the White House!”
          Unfortunately, because of so much being made of his skin color in the campaign & since, it’s going to be vastly more difficult for many (not all) who oppose him to not wind up subliminally associating bad performance as president with dark skin color.   He was marketed as a better choice because he was black, and he isn’t doing a better job.
          I’m unhappy that other black persons will suffer a tougher row to hoe because of Obama’s incompetence, but I nonetheless know that, as evening follows morning, that is how it will be.   That will be exacerbated by those who are racists overtly blaming Obama’s bad performance on his skin color.   (I am sure you can just hear them now in your imagination, as I can.)

          So it was not a crack, but an observation about the way things are & a speculation about the way they are likely to be.   If you are too enraged in life to recognize what I meant without being personally insulted (which is the appearance when you raise your hackles so quickly), it seems to me that the fault lies with you, not me.

  18. 18 brebis noire Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    Nice try Brian, but there are many of us who don’t even consider Obama to be black. As in: he’s just as white as he is black.

    That this is a huge issue for some Americans, and that you’re tying yourself into knots as you attempt to deny that you’ve made a racist crack (calling it an “observation” – nice euphemism, btw), says a lot.

    I have no idea what you’re talking about when you mention my “anger”. I dunno, I can only assume you’re projecting.

  19. 19 Brian Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    southern quebec,

    ‘Obama is inexperienced, incompetent in several categories, and is destroying the potential for a black man or woman to become president for some time to come.’

    This is such a silly statement. Generalizing like ‘Wow, we had a black President once and it didn’t work out. Never again!’ 

          I wasn’t making the case that he is incompetent with that statement, but speculating on what the results are likely to be.  I believe that if you disagree that Obama doing a really horrid job (if that is, in fact how his tenure goes, on balance) will make it harder for blacks in the future, then I submit you don’t know very well how people behave.
          Note that I am not saying this is smething I want to happen — indeed I neither want Obama to have had a bad tenure, nor (if he does) do I want that to make things harder for future black candidates — I merely happen to recognize that that is how people (sheeple) behave.
          You sneer, because people acting like that would be stupid.  But haven’t you noticed that in large measure people behave stupidly?  And if you haven’t noticed that, where have you been?!?

     

    Using this ‘logic,’ after GWB there would never be a white male Yale ‘graduate’ in the White House!  Sheesh.

          You might be too naïve, or too immersed in denial to participate effectively in this discussion.  You are talking like someone who just doesn’t know anything about how people act.
          Look:  Up to now, all US presidents have been white males.  A good job by any white president, or a bad job by any white president is not going to have any affect on someone’s opinion of white men holding that office.  Indeed, among those who think that men should bow out (or be pushed out) and who think that women should run things instead (I mean someone of this opinion rather than being one who supports whomever is the best candidate based on the person, irrespective of gender), a really really good white male president will not change their mind.  In other words, at this stage of the game, the performance of any given white male president has little affect on anyone’s opinion on the suitability of white males to be president.
          But there has never been a black president of the US before.  Consequently, Obama is under more scrutiny than he would be is he were not black. If you don’t realize that, then you either live in a fantasy world where you believe the world to be as you wish it to be, rather than coming to your opinion of how the world is through observing how the world is, or you powers of observation are pretty ineffective.

  20. 20 Brian Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Brebis,

          I am not tied in knots.  Since you (and others) are so hair trigger to jump to conclusions, I am merely taking pains to be as explicit as I can, in hopes that you will actually receive the points being made so as to contemplate them, and answer with respect to them, rather than flying off at the handle over trigger words.

          I can but try.

  21. 21 brebis noire Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    OK Brian, I will spell it out for you – please try to pay attention. You assume people will do the old Obama is black (but he isn’t, not really), Obama is bad POTUS (sez who?? – the people accusing him seem to me to be either die-hard Republicans, Tea partiers, or very liberals who are disappointed in him and consider him no better than the rest, but not exactly a bad president), therefore any black person would be a bad POTUS. But that “observation” reflects only your bias, nothing more.

    People evolve over generations, they will not necessarily hold the same assumptions you do, or act the way you are predicting. You are not the future.

    Also: stop projecting with this flying off the handle business. You are coming in here with opposing opinions, obviously enjoying the persecution game, and you’re quick to jump to the trigger every time someone disagrees with or pokes holes in your worldview.

  22. 22 Bleatmop Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    Ck – I do hope not. Or rather, I think Harper getting his majority would be a very bad thing. I just think it’s going to happen unless this cross country does something magical and actually endures people to Iggy.

    I know I know, that’s about as likely as the Invisible Pink Unicorn not being real.

    Thank you for the video, but I don’t understand a word of it. I’m born and raised in Alberta and the 6 months of French education that I received during my Klein-era classes of 60 children just didn’t get the job done. (not that I couldn’t have continued as an option, but I thought outdoor education and foods classes were much cooler, something I now regret). Is the most likely interpretation of that poster actually akin to saying “Vote us in and we’ll get rid of elections?” or something more akin to what JJ was saying as “We’re the party of actions, not elections”?

  23. 23 JJ Thursday, July 15, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Bleat – Ah, thanks for the translation buddy. My francais is muy rusty 😉 So we’re to believe that the CPC is advertising their intention to do away with elections? A “Harpercon Coup”, without a single shot fired? Special!! Gandhi has nothing on the Harpinator!!! 😯

    But seriously 😉
    I agree that a Harper majority would be a very bad thing, if only because he wouldn’t be able to stop his wacky knuckledragging backbenchers from tabling all manner of brainless bills, and some of them might even pass 😯 There are plenty of real reasons to oppose Harper without hitching a ride on the Conspiracy Theory Express, as I’m sure you’d agree 😉

  24. 24 Brian Friday, July 16, 2010 at 11:30 am

    OK Brian, I will spell it out for you – please try to pay attention.

           Well, it’s hard.  There are a lot of posts, and we all have limited time we can spend on our individual and variegated enterprises.  But I’ll try.

     

    … Obama is bad POTUS —sez who?? …

    Well the list is long.
           43% job approval rating is one sez.  Bad opinion polls do not prove he is doing a bad job, but it answers the question you asked of “who sez” (43% of those polled do).
    He has assembled an unprecedented number of “czars” in a way that is probably unconstitutional, and which effectively circumvents the intended check on his behavior that is constitutionally provided by the Senate consenting to persons holding governmental power.
    The behavior of the State Dept. is his responsibility.  The missteps that State has made have set back US relations with many heretofore long-term allies.
    He has increased the debt faster than anyone could have imagined, imperiling the future of the country itself.
    His pronouncements against this and that have lacked a consistency, giving rise to uncertainty.  This has lowered the consumer confidence index more than it would have been lowered without that — and for no reason.
    His pronouncements against businesses has caused them to take a much more cautious approach to hiring, pursuing R & D, and so on.  Again, his pronouncements have not appeared to  be part of a plan, or an agenda, but give much more appearance of attempts to shore up his job approval rating with targeted groups (unions one day, environmentalist another day, then among the elderly, and so on).
    Obama has chosen a really incompetent man as the White House press representative, Gibbs.
    Obama condemned the police department for “acting stupidly” in the event at Cambridge with professor Henry Louis Gates prior to having any of the facts in the case, having to backpedal afterward.  This was very unpresidential.

           This is just a small, small representation of the list of reasons he is not a very good president.  They almost all appear to stem from his lack of experience with any administrative role.  That doesn’t make him a bad person, only a bad choice for president at this stage of his life.

     

    … Obama is black (but he isn’t, not really) …

           Well, so you say (and have said).  But then why does Garofalo say that conservatives’ problem with him is having a black man in the White House?  She seems to think he’s a black man.  The friend of mine I mentioned having entreated me “Don’t be afraid to put a black man in the White House” thinks of him as black.  I know that he had one white parent, but virtually (though apparently not literally) everyone considers him to be a black man, including himself.
           But the point is not significant, because those whom I think will behave in the way I have anticipated certainly think of him as such, and that is component of the phenomenon (they think this, they see that, they reason or react thusly) whether their seeing him as a black man is justified by his ancestry or not.

     

    You assume people will do the old Obama is black …, Obama is bad POTUS …, therefore any black person would be a bad POTUS. But that “observation” reflects only your bias, nothing more.

           It does show my opinion (not my bias), but it is not “my opinion and nothing more.”  I might be wrong, and I certainly hope that I am.  I really do.  I want to have a choice between all the potentially qualified individuals, irrespective of skin color, religion or gender.
           We all expect people to act a certain way, based on our experiences with ourselves and with others.  I have seen really troubling behavior by the population at large many times — as have you.  This shapes our perceptions.  We need to be ready to modify or drop our previously developed opinions if trustworthy information received later shows us to have misapprehended how things are.  If I see evidence that this understanding of mine is seriously out of line with the current social behavior, I will amend or eliminate it.

     

    People evolve over generations; they will not necessarily hold the same assumptions you do, or act the way you are predicting. You are not the future.

           Yes, they most assuredly do evolve.  But that evolution is slower than I believe you might think it is.  Even you added “over generations.”
           I know people do not hold the assumptions that I do (some do, some don’t).  They also do not opinions that I do (some do, some don’t). One of my opinions is that if they did, the world would be a better and safer place.  I hold that opinion of my opinions, you do not hold that opinion of my opinions (though I dare say that you do believe that if others held the assumptions and opinions that you do, the world would be a better and safer place).
           With the last statement you’re arguing against a straw man.  Neither I, nor anyone I know of has claimed that I’m the future, nor that I am in any way particularly gifted at predicting the future — better than many, and not as good as many.  So your “countering” that I am “not the future” counters an allegation or position the no one has taken.  Hence, it’s a straw man.

     

    [S]top projecting with this flying off the handle business. You are coming in here with opposing opinions, obviously enjoying the persecution game, and you’re quick to jump to the trigger every time someone disagrees with or pokes holes in your worldview.

           I am not projecting.  I myself am not “flying off at the handle” such that I would even have anything to project.  I give my opinions, and I respond to those who disagree with reasons I believe they are mistaken, as I am doing right now with you.
           Quick on the trigger, perhaps.  But I do so civilly, attempting to reason.  I don’t say things like “You’re full of shit!” or “All you [whatever]s say this all the time!” and inflamed responses such as that.  And I don’t get all angry with those who disagree with me.  The feature that led me to say what I did about “flying off at the handle” is the anger directed at me, the making it personal, when it hasn’t been up to that point.  (Naturally, when someone attacks me personally, I respond about myself, personally.)

  25. 25 brebis noire Saturday, July 17, 2010 at 3:55 am

    Everything you wrote in that paragraph could be applied to Bush II, especially the part about increasing debt. You don’t realise that he almost single-handedly made caused most of the world to either despise or laugh at the US for nearly 8 years running? And look at where you were by the end of 2008. Geez, I’m afraid I will have to accuse you of having a very short and selective memory.

    I’m not arguing that Obama is doing a bang-up job, but it seemed patently obvious from the start that he was given a very poor state of the union to start with. Repubs and teabaggers didn’t even wait until January 2009 to blame this mess on Obama, and twist words and scenarios around to make him look like something he’s not (socialist, communist, etc.) – c.f. the use of the word “czar”. Tell me honestly, Bush didn’t have his cadre of czars? It’s just that nobody called them that. Feh.
    It’s very clear that Cheney played a far more unconstitutionally dangerous role than anything Obama could dream up.
    I’m pretty confident that history will judge the long and downspiralling presidency of Bush II to have been more spectacularly disastrous than most.

    My point is that the US is so far down the road of debt and war, with no real economy anymore, that any person taking charge at this point would be considered ineffectual at best.

    And I maintain that your “observations” are nothing more than a reflection of the bias and racism that your society bathes in. I lived in Texas for nearly three years in the early, and had enough of systematic, oblivious racism, sexism and classism to last me a lifetime. Evangelicals were among the worst offenders; the seminary my spouse attended didn’t even admit black students until the late 70s or early 80s and there are still no women on the faculty, in 2010.

  26. 26 Brian Saturday, July 17, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Brebis,

    Thank you so much for your reasoned, substantive response.  It gave me things to think about, and provided me with things I was not aware of (such as the seminary your spouse attended).  I found this a very enjoyable post with which to interact.  Thank you again.

     

    Everything you wrote in that paragraph could be applied to Bush II, especially the part about increasing debt.

    Well, OK then, you consider Bush 43 (ie, the 43d president, as distinguished from Bush 41) to have been a bad president, and Obama is behaving in ways that you say are equivalent.  That would seem to bolster my position that he is making big mistakes — at least in the categories where they are making mistakes that you say are the same.

    But your inclusion of “especially the part about increasing debt” is inaccurate.  Though the debt went up during the Bush administration (something for which I find great fault with him), the rate of debt growth under Obama dwarfs that which took place during the Bush administration.  You might not be aware of this — many are. Debt growth, ie, the deficit, should be assessed as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product, if you are going to compare like items rather than dissimilar items.  Just a side note.

     

    You don’t realise that he almost single-handedly made caused most of the world to either despise or laugh at the US for nearly 8 years running?

    No, I do not, in fact.  He caused the left to laugh at or despise the US more than they previously had, but that is not the same as “the world.”  A pretty sizable majority of the world’s press is run by editors with a leftist point of view, so a lot of ink was used to disparage Bush, and the US under his leadership by them.

    But these agencies (left-wing media and leftist countries) have not really been allies of the US.  Obama has insulted and driven backward countries who have been US allies.  That seems more significant to me.

     

    And look at where you were by the end of 2008.

    Bear in mind that the last 2 years of Bush’s administration were with a House of Representatives and a Senate in the hands of Democrats.  Bush made many unsuccessful attempts to reduce congress’s spending, and to ameliorate what was recognized as a looming disaster in the mortgage market.  He was stymied by Democrats like Barney Frank, Charles Rangel and Harry Reid.

    Had Bush been a better president, the opposition would not have been as effective, to be sure.  But the fact remains that he tried to prevent the disaster from being as severe, and the Democrats prevented him from doing so.

     

    [I]t seemed patently obvious from the start that he was given a very poor state of the union to start with.

    Granted.

     

    Repubs and [TPP]s didn’t even wait until January 2009 to blame this mess on Obama

    Yeah, I don’t like that much;  but in practice, welcome to politics 101.  The same thing happened to Bush 43.  It is unfortunately the way things are done, and I lament that that is probably never going to change.

     

    … to make him look like something he’s not (socialist, communist, etc.)

    Actually, in practice, he is a socialist.  He is not as pure of a socialist as many, but his inclinations are decidedly in the socialist direction, though I do believe that is due to his inclinations rather than any thought out poli-sci agenda.

     

    Tell me honestly, Bush didn’t have his cadre of czars? It’s just that nobody called them that.

    This is not exactly accurate.  First of all, bush had people in his administration which he did call czars, so it is inaccurate that “nobody called them that.”

    But also, Bush had nothing like– nothing even remotely like the funded, established people running significant portions of policy implementation outside the supervision of Congress that Obama has.  This is absolutely without precedent in the US.  It is literally the framework of a shadow, hidden government.  This is something that really makes your statement “It’s very clear that Cheney played a far more unconstitutionally dangerous role than anything Obama could dream up” a misread.  What Obama is doing is unmitigated disaster — perhaps even the death knell — for the concept of representative government in the US.  This is going to go very, very badly I fear.

     

    [T]he seminary my spouse attended didn’t even admit black students until the late 70s or early 80s and there are still no women on the faculty, in 2010.

    [!] Wow!  What seminary it that?  I had not heard there was such, and would like to know more about that.

     

    I maintain that your ‘observations’ are nothing more than a reflection of the bias and racism that your society bathes in.

    I don’t think this characterization is accurate.  (Though it might be accurate with respect to Texas at the time you were there.   c. 1990 I worked with, and became good friends with a young man (30-ish) from Alabama.  I managed to play a significant role in shifting his views to a less race/class steeped viewpoint, so I had a look at the kind of thing you are describing.

    But let’s contemplate the case in which your characterization is spot on, that is, for the sake of argument.  For me to “observe” that Obama’s performance doing a poor job in combination with his position as the first black president will make voters gun-shy about electing a black person to the presidency for some years to come would, in that case, be an accurate observation.

    So on the one hand you imply that I am projecting what you see as my bias onto an unbiased populace (or one less biased than I am thinking it will be), and then it seems to me that you state that US society is more biased than you see me implying.

    In any event, I really do hope I am wrong.  I can think of several black men I would vote for in a second (and several women I would vote for just as quickly).  I would like to have the chance to vote for them, but I think that it will be harder for them to ascend to the national ballot now than it would have been had Obama either not been elected, or were doing a better job.

    Ironically, Obama might be rescued by Republicans following this fall’s election.

  27. 27 brebis noire Saturday, July 17, 2010 at 10:45 am

    “The same thing happened to Bush 43.”
    No, the opposite thing happened to Bush 43. He inherited a booming economy, no active wars and a lot of international sympathy. Yet he quickly squandered all three. And I am no Clinton fan by any stretch.

    I’m not going to argue the specifics of exactly what Obama is doing, partly because I’m not paying enough attention to fully grasp them. I take anything you write with a ginormous grain of salt, in view of the way your interpretations are highly tendentious, ideologically speaking.

    As for the seminary my husband attended, I will only say that it’s a major conservative, mainstream seminary in a major northern Texas city, from which the first black student to graduate was in 1982. That’s pretty recent. The school is not quick to trumpet that milestone, since by the time it finally happened, it was more a sign of being behind the times. Or, you could google Tony Evans.

    Finally, as to your “observations” vs entrenched racism, I would just kindly point out that the US is not in fact the world, and your take on how people react to a “black” president is more representative of Tea Party attitudes, and no longer an adequate barometer of mainstream USian political currents. A dying breed, in other words.

  28. 28 Brian Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 9:30 am

    That’s northern Texas?  I never would’ve guessed that;  I Would have thought that would be central Texas.

    I don’t really think 1982 is all that recent. That is less than 20 years after the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and was 28 years in the past to us.

    I would think that Dispensationalism would not’ve had a lot of followers in the black community at that time.  Black churches were focused much more on emotion than theology, something that sadly has led to a community that was by and large Christian, abandoning that.  Christianity, in practice, does affect Christians emotionally, but if you have little theology to go with it you will have a shaky foundation when troubles arise.

    Also, it would seem that seminary attendance is more affected by general prosperity than attendance at secular higher learning establishments would be. You cannot do nearly as well financially with a seminary degree as you can with a degree in economics, or business. I don’t really know that, but it seems to me that that that would be the case.

    I am going to look into this a little more, though.

  29. 29 brebis noire Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Way to diss blacks in both their spiritual traditions and history, Brian! Your oblivious racism is not exactly surprising, and yet I believe there’s no malice intended. But really, the very late admission of blacks into this seminary can be more directly and simply explained by the starkly racist views of grads from the 40s and 50s (and possibly beyond), which I was privileged to hear firsthand.

    Dispensationalism is hardly a solid foundation. It’s just a wonky template whose sole purpose is to attempt to hold together the myriad discrepancies and contradictions of the bible and its portrayal of the character, actions and intents of God. Cobbled together in the late 1800s by some guy in England and progressively altered and retrofitted. Well, I guess if you don’t have papal tradition, the priestly hierarchy and sacraments, you have a pretty shaky foundation when troubles arise.

  30. 30 deBeauxOs Sunday, July 18, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    brian said: “Brebis, Thank you so much for your reasoned, substantive response. It gave me things to think about, and provided me with things I was not aware of (such as the seminary your spouse attended).”

    What a condescending statement.

    Every single comment that brebis noire has produced in response to your verbiage and sermonettes has been reasoned and substantive.

    What made you suddenly shift gears Brian? Learning that brebis noire lived in Texas and that she has a spouse who studied at an evangelical seminary?

  31. 31 Brian Monday, July 19, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Dispensationalism is hardly a solid foundation. It’s just a wonky template whose sole purpose is to attempt to hold together the myriad discrepancies and contradictions of the bible and its portrayal of the character, actions and intents of God. Cobbled together in the late 1800s by some guy in England and progressively altered and retrofitted.

    As has been the case before, you simply don’t know history.

    Justin Martyr — in the 2nd century AD — discussed dispensations delineated in the Old Testament in his book Dialogue with Trypho, recognizing 3 of them, using the phrase “… several differing economies in the Old Testament.”  This shows that Dispensationalism — fledgling, to be sure — predates “the papal system” by hundreds of years.

    Irenaeus (A. D. 130-200) Refers in his writings to 4 “principal covenants given to the human race,” particularly drawing a distinction between 3 covenants of the Old Testament and the Gospel.  This distinction is typical of Dispensationalism.  This, too, predates the papal system by a long shot.

    Augustine (A. D. 354-530) comes along next and refers to changes from one economy in God’s plan to another as “the changes of successive epochs.”  This is a long, long time before the time of your assertion, “the late 1800s.”

    You simply are grossly misinformed.

    Dispensationalism is a category of systematic theology.  Systematic theology is the activity of describing systematically that which is found in the Bible.  It does not change the Bible, it enhances understanding of it.  Consequently, systems of theological thought undergo refinement, sometimes even reversals, all the time.

    For centuries students of the Bible took references in prophecy to Israel to be metaphoric, since there was no Israel.  Lewis Sperry Chafer, the father of modern Dispensationalism disagreed, because he believed the Bible to be accurate.  Though he was ridiculed by some for this position that Israel meant Israel, he was vindicated in 1948 when there was a reestablishment of a political entity named Israel which was able to interact on the political stage in ways that prophecy speaks about.  THis lead to a reversal in some systems of theology, but it did not result in a re-writing of the Bible.

    So it is not a difficulty that Dispensationalism has undergone recent refinement and increased systematization.  The idea of Dispensationalism is discussed by Paul in the first chapter of Ephesians, and by the early Church Fathers.

    “Bible,” in this context, is a proper noun, and the micro-tantrum of using a lower-case “b” to name it is just that.

     

    There not only are not myriad discrepancies and contradictions in the Bible —— there is not even one contradiction.  Any discrepancies are accurate reports of people differing in what they have to say, such as the Bible accurately reporting that Billy thought something happened on a Wednesday while Bobby thought it happened on Thursday.  For an historical document to accurately report what Billy & Bobby thought has the document reporting discrepancies, not having discrepancies.

     

    Your oblivious racism is not exactly surprising…

    I am not a racist at all.  Recognizing drawbacks within a given community that is drawn along racial lines is not the same as being a racist, otherwise all anthropologists studying modern times would be racists.  This moronic oppression we all live under wherein anyone who makes a recognition of differing racial lines of development within a community is the rich soil from which historical revisionism grows.  No one is allowed to say what really happened, so revised histories become preferred and more abundant.

    Black churches of the 1960s were significantly different from white churches.  The music was different, the preaching was different.  The per capita church attendance in the black community was higher than the per capita church attendance in the white community.  That has been inverted in our time. That is not a racist observation, it is an observation that recognizes distinctions between the collection of blacks in society (the “black community”) as opposed to the collection of whites in the same society (the “white community”).

  32. 32 Brian Monday, July 19, 2010 at 9:14 am

        [B]rian said: “Brebis, Thank you so much for your reasoned, substantive
        response. It gave me things to think about, and provided me with things
        I was not aware of (such as the seminary your spouse attended).”

    What a condescending statement.

    Son of a bitch!  I can’t even thank someone without meeting stiff resistance from you!!!

    Man!  Stuff it, will you?

  33. 33 deBeauxOs Monday, July 19, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Interesting. That hit a raw nerve, I’d say.

  34. 34 brebis noire Monday, July 19, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Yes I know Brian, tonnes of ink have been spilled in myriad attempts to make sense of the writings cobbled together in the Christian bible. That doesn’t make dispensationalism any more true than any other system of belief, or Christianity any more valid than any other religion.

    I will charitably overlook your comment that I’m grossly misinformed, since I’m big enough to step over that immature form of intellectual intimidation.

  35. 35 Brian Monday, July 19, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    I didn’t just allege that you were misinformed.

    You stated that Dispensationalism was “[c]obbled together in the late 1800s by some guy in England.” I showed that it was found in the Bible itself in Ephesians 1:10, that a guy who lived from 103–165 wrote about it, that another guy who lived from 130-200 wrote about it, that a 4th guy who lived from 354-530 wrote about it.

    So I presented 3 people (Paul, Martyr and Irenaeus) who all wrote prior to the year 200 and a 4th guy who wrote prior to 530AD about something that you said was cobbled together in the late 1800s. That’s pretty misinformed.

    It would be one thing if I just said you were misinformed. It is entirely different to show how you were wrong, then summarize that as you not knowing the history of which you speak.

     

    … since I’m big enough to step over that immature form of intellectual intimidation.

    It wasn’t intellectual intimidation, nor was it an immature rant. It was a summary of what I had already said, which was offered to help you, and anyone else reading, have a better understanding of this little piece of history.

    If I had only said “Neener, neener: you’re so stupid,” that would be immature, and a poor attempt at intimidation. But I didn’t do that — neither that attitude, nor that lack of content. I gave you authors and book titles that completely destroyed your assertion of Dispensationalism’s genesis having been in the late 1800s. But besides that, even if it had originated in the late 19oos, that would have no bearing on whether it was a legitimate description of what the Bible says.

     

    … myriad attempts to make sense of the writings cobbled together in the Christian bible [sic].

    So. It is a micro-tantrum…

    Yes there have indeed been many attempts to write about what the Bible says. Many hundreds, if not many thousands, have done quite well at it. So, attempts yes; successful ones, quite often.

     

    That doesn’t make [D]ispensationalism any more true than any other system of belief, or Christianity any more valid than any other religion.

    Well yeah. I mean “Duh!” Many people writing about something has no bearing on its trueness or falseness. It is what is in what they are writing about that makes it true or false. And if what is in it is true, and they properly reflect what is there, then their writing will be true.

    What makes Dispensationalism more true than other theology systems is its content. Dispensationalism is valid because it accurately reflects what the Bible says, and the Bible is true.

    Just as many people writing about the Bible doesn’t make it true, you should consider that it is equally true that no number of people impugning it makes it false, either. That test simply is not how a conclusion on that can be reached.

     

    deBeauxOs,

          Don’t work yourself into a sweat.  It’s just that it’s stunning how monotonic you can be, that’s all.  Even a compliment from me is, to you, an occasion to wrangle.  And to think some people call me chronically disagreeable!

  36. 36 brebis noire Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at 3:38 am

    Oh yes, the old “we’re all equal here, but some of us are more equal than others” argument. Nice one. Dispensationalism, in its modern form, was indeed cobbled together in the 1800s, even though other writers may have early on hinted at it or their writings can be read as a support of it, kind of. If you don’t want to acknowledge that, well: not my problem.
    Evolutionary theory works the same way, by the way. Darby can be compared to Darwin, but of course basing one’s worldview on physical evidence wouldn’t be your cup of tea.
    What you’re saying is: “Dispensationalism is true because the Bible is true! and the Bible is true because I believe it is!” And of course as an evangelical in a prosperous country, you can put your money on that. Until someday, when you can’t anymore…

  37. 37 Brian Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at 8:15 am

    Oh yes, the old “we’re all equal here, but some of us are more equal than others” argument. Nice one.

    This makes you sound like a mental case.  I never said anything like that, and have never even felt anything like that to be the case.  If you are going to start hallucinating, then ascribing the phantasms to me, the conversation will be irretrievably degraded…

     

    Dispensationalism, in its modern form, was indeed cobbled together in the 1800s, even though other writers may have early on hinted at it or their writings can be read as a support of it, kind of. If you don’t want to acknowledge that, well: not my problem.

    The history of the development of theology is one of building on the understanding of predecessors.  Jan Huss, ca. 1369 – 1415, built on the history of The Poor Men of Lyons, a band organized by Peter Waldo c. 1177.

    Martin Luther, 1483 – 1546 built on Jan Huss.  John Calvin, 1509 – 1564, would’ve been familiar with Luther, being 26 years younger, and he also built on Jan Huss. The Reformation was built largely on Luther and Calvin.

    Now, to accuse Luther or Calvin of being wrong BECAUSE THEY CAME ALONG LATER would be poor reasoning.  They were right or wrong on the basis of what they said, not on the basis of when they said it.

    But also, to allege that the Reformation has no historical roots would be inaccurate.  It had historical roots, but even if it did not, that would not affect the accuracy of its theology.

    It is clear that you don’t like that systematic theology has always been a work in progress, and that you choose to have your own private history, but it is just that — a private take, chosen because it is useful to your revision of things.

    I am not surprised that you do not have a very good grasp of the history of Christianity, inasmuch as you are not a proponent of it.  It would be quite natural for you to learn enough Christian history to be able to bash Christianity (or if not to bash it, at least to reject its trustworthiness), and be satisfied with that.  So, I am not trying to insult you, only to say that there is more here than you are aware of, and that is leading you to make inaccurate statements.

     

    What you’re saying is: “Dispensationalism is true because the Bible is true! and the Bible is true because I believe it is!”

    No, that is not what I said. I said that Dispensationalism is not true or false on the basis of how many people have written about it, nor on the basis of when it made its initial appearance, but is true if it accurately reflects that which it addresses, and if that which it systematizes is true.  I was challenging the category you were using to proclaim it false, that is, that it was recent.  When I challenged that, you said well lots of ink has been spilled about it.  I challenged that through the observation that the number of people writing about something, or the amount they have to say about it, is not a valid measure of veracity either.  The measure is WHAT they say.

    The Bible is true if it is true, and false if it is false, and my opinion of its veracity has no affect on its contents.  Knowing that to be true, I would never say that the Bible is true because I say it is — I am fully aware that the contents of the Bible are not caused by me or my opinion.

    But I DO say that the Bible is true.  The reasons for that are not because the Bible proclaims itself to be true. Even that claim would have no effect either way;  if the Bible is true, then for it to claim itself to be so is accurate — if it is not true, then such a claim within its pages would also be false, not causing the Bible to be false but only contributing to its falseness.  Still not causative, exactly as my opinion is not causative.

    Historical documents lend themselves to some forms of verification, and do not lend themselves to other forms of verification.  For instance, if we had the apostle Paul’s finger prints, checking the existing manuscripts for his finger prints would be of no use, since none of the original documents are in our possession. But archaeologists who work with documents have many categories of investigation open to them, and the Bible fares very well in these tests.

    The Bible speaks of many historical events that are verifiable through separate means.  The writers would have no way to know which events would later be verifiable, and which would not, so the verification of some events under separate auspices — and a complete dearth of contradiction of verifiable historical events — lends credence to the reported historical events for which separate verification is not possible.

    This is the sort of thing that leads to the conclusion that the Bible is true.

    There are predictions in the Bible that have come true.  The number of years from the order to rebuild the Temple to the death of the Messiah was predicted many hundreds of years before the event took place.  These predictions were so stunningly accurate that scoffers said that the words had to have been put into the mouths of those prophets after the fact — after all, they read like newspaper articles about the events.  But then copies of the Scriptures in question were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are known to have been sequestered before the reported events in those Scriptures took place.

    The Bible has one prediction that a certain city would never be rebuilt — ever.  The location is ideal, at the point where two rivers converge.  But for millennia there was no city there.

    Then a group of atheists got together and decided to go build a city there, to show that the Bible was wrong.  But even with this singularity of purpose and with this determination, that city never got built, and still, to this day remains unbuilt.

    The Bible has over 1,000 pages, and this can go on and on.  I only give these few examples to give you a look at why I believe the Bible to be true, and to show you that it is not “because the Bible says the Bible is true.”

     

    And of course as an evangelical in a prosperous country, you can put your money on that.  Until someday, when you can’t anymore…

    I’m sorry…  What?!?  I am baffled as to what that can mean.

  38. 38 deBeauxOs Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at 9:57 am

    Brian said: Don’t work yourself into a sweat. It’s just that it’s stunning how monotonic you can be, that’s all. …

    Oh, don’t flatter yrself Brian. Highlighting that condescending remark to other readers was a public service, not a reason to break a sweat.

    You just don’t get how turgid your verbiage is, how sanctimonious your sermonettes. Even when you deigned, from the heights of your self-righteousness, to recognize a point that brebis made, you did it by patronizing her.

    Note to brebis noire: doesn’t the density of Brian’s dogmatic firewall remind you of SUZIE CAPS-ON!

    Same rote replies, same second verse of “How do I know? The bible tells me so! Same obdurate deafness / willful blindness to other demonstrations of belief and faith.

  39. 39 Brian Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at 11:24 am

    Sanctimonious: excessively or hypocritically pious

    But I am not being pious at all, but explaining my views. Plus, I have done nothing hypocritical, saying one thing, but doing another, or promoting differing treatment to different groups or classes. My guess? You like using the word sanctimonious.

    I am also not self righteous. I have not indicated that I am better than anyone else, but that they have mistaken information. This speaks to the information, not to the person holding it.

     

    It’s a shame my normal vocabulary is such that to you it comes across as turgid. Translation, in words of one sound each: It’s too bad my word choice bugs you.

    I am pretty sure this will be lost on you, but what the heck.

    The value of any faith is determined by the faith-worthiness of the object of that faith. If you have faith that taking aspirin will cure your cancer, that faith — irrespective of how firmly you hold it — is worthless. If you lack faith in an air-worthy aircraft, it will still get you there, but if you have faith in one that cannot withstand the stress of flight, you’ll fall from the sky despite your faith.

    I think I would have to say the same applies to one’s observation/recognition of “other demonstrations of belief and faith.”

  40. 40 brebis noire Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Brian, your apologetics are wasted on me, really. And I’m pretty sure that besides deBeauxOs and possibly (though not likely) JJ, nobody else is paying attention. Maybe you’re practising for real life, in the same way that I’m mildly enjoying the opportunity to write about things from a viewpoint that is very different from one I once held, when I was young and under religious influence.

    In my own real life, I’ve often listened silently while evangelical Christian dispensationalists (including people who have otherwise been very dear to me) have used all kinds of blatant, provable falsehoods in their purported biblical proofs (many of which have been like urban legends, and a few of them actually were) as well as invented anecdotes relating to famous persons from history and current days. Often, after they were done, I’d do some research and see how they had twisted facts to suit their interpretations, used made-up stories to support their faith and beliefs (and sometimes their bigotry), and generally been very selective in their biblical exposition. Sometimse they have held up some pretty heinous characters as spiritual examples. Martin Luther and Mel Gibson, just to drop a few names (of course, this was Mel Gibson prior to 2006…).

    It was very entertaining to poke holes in their assertions, but mainly it was instructive to me.

    This feels like déjà vu all over again, but without the specifics.

  41. 41 brebis noire Wednesday, July 21, 2010 at 7:35 am

    “The Bible has one prediction that a certain city would never be rebuilt — ever. The location is ideal, at the point where two rivers converge. But for millennia there was no city there.

    Then a group of atheists got together and decided to go build a city there, to show that the Bible was wrong. But even with this singularity of purpose and with this determination, that city never got built, and still, to this day remains unbuilt.”

    If you’d like to provide some specifics on this purported fulfilled prophecy, please go ahead, I’ve love to research and debunk it. It sounds so deliciously specious.
    If you’re referring to the city of Tyre (c.f. Ezekiel), that’s already been debunked.
    I find it very sad that evangelicals hold to their faith so dearly, disrespecting all other faiths as they go, and yet base their own on the slimmest of debunkable evidence.

  42. 42 Bleatmop Wednesday, July 21, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    “The Bible has one prediction that a certain city would never be rebuilt — ever. The location is ideal, at the point where two rivers converge. But for millennia there was no city there.

    Then a group of atheists got together and decided to go build a city there, to show that the Bible was wrong. But even with this singularity of purpose and with this determination, that city never got built, and still, to this day remains unbuilt.”

    BWahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahhahaha.

    HAhahahahahahhaha

    hahah
    ha

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    lol


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