Tuesday Reads: Epiphany Edition

Ethiopian Magi, by Patrick Comerford

Ethiopian Magi, by Patrick Comerford

Good Morning!!

Looking at the news that’s breaking this morning, I’m finally getting the feeling that “the holiday season” is coming to an end. After all, today is the Epiphany–also known as Twelfth Night–the day the three Maji supposedly arrived at the stable in Bethlehem to pay tribute to the baby Jesus with gifts gold, frankincense and myrrh. From The Guardian:

It’s a significant day in many countries, particularly Catholic ones, where Twelfth Night parties and celebrations are commonplace and usually involve the selection of a king, and sometimes a queen and other characters. In France, for example, the galette des rois (“cake of kings”) has a token baked into it; patisseries sell it along with a gold paper crown for the recipient of the token, who becomes the party’s ruler.

Some Epiphany celebrations from British literature:

Samuel Pepys celebrated the feast – always on 6 January, which he says marks the end of Christmas – and in 1663 goes to see Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. The drama is “acted well, though it be but a silly play, and not related at all to the name or day” – which it isn’t, apart from a general air of misrule. Pepys usually has or attends a party, with dancing and merriment, and always a “brave” or “excellent” cake. There are other tokens baked into it: one year he gets the clove, which indicates he is a knave, but he smuggles it into someone else’s slice. In 1669 he mentions a new fashion, which is to draw paper lots for king and queen of the party, rather than finding a bean, so as not to spoil the cake (and perhaps to avoid the cheating just mentioned).

In Charles Dickens’s Christmas Carol, there is a reference to “immense Twelfth-cakes”, and Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present visit a “children’s Twelfth Night party”. Dickens’s letters show that in his household there was a party every year: the date is his son Charley’s birthday, but it’s clear he thinks a Twelfth Night party is quite normal.

In James Joyce’s short story The Dead, from his collection Dubliners (1914), Gabriel Conroy and his wife Gretta go every year to an important party held by the Misses Morkan. There is dinner, dancing and singing, but alongside the festivities we see darkness and contemplation: snow falls over Ireland, and Gabriel looks through it as he thinks about his own shortcomings and about the wife whom he thought he knew. The idea of a character having a metaphorical epiphany, a moment of revelation or realisation, comes directly from Joyce, and each story in Dubliners features one.

More examples at the link.

This is a tar sands plant Alberta, Canada. Republicans can't wait to bring this to the US.

This is a tar sands plant Alberta, Canada. Republicans can’t wait to bring this to the US.

The new Republican-controlled Congress begins “work” today. The AP reports, via Huffington Post: New Congress Getting Sworn In With GOP In Charge.

Republicans are assuming full control of Congress for the first time in eight years in a day of pomp, circumstance and raw politics beneath the Capitol Dome.

They planned to move swiftly Tuesday toward a veto showdown with President Barack Obama over the Keystone XL pipeline, summoning unity despite a tea party-backed effort to unseat House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio.

As mandated by the Constitution, Congress was to convene at noon.

In the Senate, with Vice President Joe Biden presiding, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky was to automatically ascend to majority leader following his approval by rank-and-file Republicans last year.

McConnell and Boehner both were to deliver remarks on their chamber’s floors as they positioned themselves for two years of clashes with Obama.

First, Boehner had to survive his election as speaker — the main event on any opening day’s agenda. Tea party-backed Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas and Ted Yoho of Florida put themselves forward as challengers to Boehner, and at least 10 Republicans announced they would oppose Boehner.

The challenges to Boehner won’t go anywhere, but they could provide some brief entertainment. From Politico: Boehner likely to survive another squeaker for speaker.

John Boehner could lose the support of as many as 20 Republicans on his way to a near-certain reelection as House speaker, his allies concede — a political embarrassment for a GOP leader who narrowly survived a conservative rebellion two years ago.

The Ohio Republican needs votes from 217 lawmakers Tuesday to win a third term as speaker, meaning that opposition from 29 House Republicans could cost him the gavel. Boehner retained the speakership by a surprisingly narrow margin in January 2013, losing the support of 11 Republicans at a time when the GOP had a smaller majority.

This time, Boehner’s supporters say, he could lose anywhere from 12 to 20 GOP votes under a backlash from conservative members angry about their leaders’ reluctance to wage a frontal attack on President Barack Obama’s immigration policies. Losing that many votes won’t prove fatal for Boehner or even have a long-term impact on his speakership, but it could still prove embarrassing for a GOP leadership that faces a spate of difficult legislative deadlines and is under pressure to prove it can govern during the Republican-controlled 114th Congress.

The speaker’s allies believe they have the opposition under control, and as of Monday, the anti-Boehner crowd was far from having the numbers to force a second-ballot vote, let alone deny him a new term. But the dissenters and their allies in conservative media are fanning the flames.

Boehner_Crying2

Politico says that Boehner is looking forward to a “new reality” in which he triumphs over the wingnuts who have made his life miserable since he became Speaker in 2010.

For years, Boehner has had to stroke the egos of his House Republican Conference’s far-right fringe, the hardline conservatives who had an outsized voice in every legislative debate and often dragged the entire party with them, even when he implored them to ease up.

Sure, Boehner’s “brand” will be tarnished by the right wing challenges to his leadership, but

the GOP leadership thinks that Boehner’s almost-certain victory, plus the biggest House Republican majority in decades, gives him the legislative latitude he’s desperately sought since 2010.

No more shutdowns, no more mindless face-offs with President Barack Obama and the Democrats, they hope. Boehner and House Republicans will be able to push a conservative agenda, but they will pick their fights more carefully, choosing battles they can win on issues where they have the upper hand over the White House.

Top Republicans blare that they’re plainly sick of the chaos of the last few years, when Boehner was under pressure to deliver to hardliners in order to keep his job.

“I think a lot of members just want to get through this and get onto the business they got elected to do,” said a GOP lawmaker loyal to Boehner.

Good luck with that.

Gohmert

It won’t happen, but just for a moment, imagine Louie Gohmert as Speaker of the House (and third in line to assume the presidency if Obama and Biden were unable to continue for some reason!). Bob Cesca thought about the possibilities yesterday: Louie Gohmert for House Speaker Because Comedy.

I’m deadly serious about this. Contrary to popular opinion dictating that fringe political weirdos and radicals should be ignored until they somehow magically vanish (they don’t), I’ve always believed that the more they’re exposed as the weirdos and radicals they are, the faster they’ll be ejector-seated off the national bus. So, along those lines, the best thing to ever happen to the universe would be if Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) were to succeed in his mission to be elected Speaker of the House.

If you’re a Democrat and you want there to be more Democrats in Congress, you too should endorse the idea of this talking honeydew melon — this marble-mouthed gomer to ascend to the highest congressional post in the land where the entire nation will get a close-up view of his lobotomized gibberish. Of course he’ll never get there but, you know, dare to dream. While it’s fun to have a speaker who’s a weepy drunk, what we need is Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel. We need a Republican who’s been repeatedly kicked in the skull by a mule. On purpose.

Why Gohmert? For the comedy, obviously. The nation deserves to laugh at crap like this:

“We need to start eliminating money for any agency, including the White House, that is not following the law. And then you get their attention. That’s what the Founders anticipated.”

Yes, a sitting member of Congress clearly doesn’t realize that any spending bill passed by Congress, including the de-funding of the White House, would have to be signed by the president before actually becoming a law. And no, the Founders didn’t anticipate the House passing legislation that automatically becomes law.

Read several more examples of Gohmert’s wit and wisdom at The Daily Banter link.

And check this out at Raw Story, Gohmert warns America: ‘It’s going to devastate this country’ if I’m not elected Speaker of the House.

In an interview with Fox News host Martha MacCallum, Gohmert explained that he had announced over the weekend that he was running for the job of House Speaker because Boehner had not fought “tooth and nail” to stop a recent budget bill.

“What we do in the next two years, it’s likely going to determine whether we get a Republican or not in 2016,” the Texas congressman insisted. “For the Speaker to run in and pass the [budget bill] that totally funds Obamacare for all next year — we took the hostage of the Homeland Security — that was a huge mistake.”

“For Boehner to rush in when we had the control of the Senate coming into our hands this month, this week, and to make a deal with [Obama] that funds everything that Obama wanted for the year except Homeland Security is like [General] Custer saying, ‘Come on boys, let’s attack now before help gets here.’”

Read more and watch the video at the link.

obama-pointing-at-you

According to The Hill, President Obama isn’t going to lie down and let crazy Republicans walk all over him: Bolder Obama ready to take on GOP.

White House officials feel emboldened headed into what Obama has described as the “fourth quarter” of his presidency.

Promising economic news, declining gas prices, and a flurry of executive actions that energized his liberal base have provided him with his best poll numbers in more than a year.

Aides and strategists believe this provides opportunity for him, even with Republicans taking control of both the House and Senate on Tuesday for the first time since 2006.

“Really for the first time in his time in office, the president has the economic winds at his back — and not in his face,” Democratic strategist Chris Lehane said.

If the winds continue to blow in Obama’s direction — no sure thing, as evidenced by the 300-point drop Monday in the Dow Jones industrial average — Obama’s White House will be able to stay on offense, Lehane said.

The administration is planning new executive actions and legislative proposals in the buildup to his State of the Union address at the end of the month. It is also staking out areas where the president will aggressively use his veto authority. 

Finally, in the spirit of the holiday, did you know there’s a TV show called Black Jesus?

You can watch the first season at Adult Swim.

In other news . . .

Christian Science Monitor: Boston Marathon bombing trial begins with high-stakes jury selection.

New York Magazine: Bess Meyerson Dead at 90 — Remembering her three lives.

Time Magazine: White House Turns the Screw on Steve Scalise.

Olivia Nuzzi at The Daily Beast: Rand Paul’s Passive-Aggressive Trolling Campaign.

Seattle PI: Another police shooting in San Francisco. Man shot by San Francisco officers left suicide notes

Christian Science Monitor: After police turn back on mayor again, where does New York go from here?

Yahoo News: Police union pushes for cop killings to be included in federal hate crimes law.

Fox News: 2 dead, 12 injured in North Dakota school bus-train collision.

The Daily Beast: Pediatrician: Vaccinate Your Kids—Or Get Out of My Office.

ABC News: Son of Slain Hedge Fund Founder Thomas Gilbert Sr. Charged With Homicide. His dad was going to stop paying his rent and reduce his allowance.

SF Gate: Mark Zuckerberg starts Facebook book club. Some of the books Zuckerberg has read are “Andre Agassi’s memoir “Open,” Walter Isaacson’s biography “Einstein” and Shel Silverstein’s children’s picture book “The Giving Tree.”” He also likes Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. I think I’ll pass on having this guy tell me what books I should read.

The Telegraph: Prince Andrew’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein in 60 seconds.

The Telegraph: What are the challenges facing Prince Andrew and the Queen over sex abuse claims?

What stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a terrific Tuesday.

 


50 Comments on “Tuesday Reads: Epiphany Edition”

  1. Sweet Sue says:

    Tommy Gilbert will live rent free for the rest of his life; not too shabby.

  2. ANonOMouse says:

    good read this morning BB….They’re voting on Speaker right now. Looks like the idiot Gohmert is getting his ass kicked by Boehner

  3. dakinikat says:

    Hi! The Joan of Arc Parade is tonight! Here’s some shots of last year’s parade!

    http://www.nola.com/mardigras/index.ssf/2014/12/mardi_gras_2015_joan_of_arc_pa.html#incart_river

  4. dakinikat says:

    Obama vows to veto Keystone pipeline
    The Republicans took control of the U.S. Senate Tuesday with a promise to introduce and pass a bill to build Keystone, but the president says ‘not so fast’

    http://o.canada.com/news/obama-vows-to-veto-keystone-pipeline

  5. dakinikat says:

    Washington Post ‏@washingtonpost 1m1 minute ago
    The U.S. has more jails than colleges. Here’s a map of where those prisoners live. http://wapo.st/1AmOOkZ

    • ANonOMouse says:

      And this from the Daily Beast describing how desperate the anti-gay groups are becoming as their U.S. donations are drying up. Breaks my damn heart, NOT!!!!

      http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/01/06/only-god-can-stop-gay-marriage.html

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Apparently there’s a ton of money in the Gay Hate business. The silly christianists should have known that they couldn’t finance this gay hate campaign forever.

      • dakinikat says:

        That’s good news! I wish religious leaders would speak up more. I can’t understand why folks complain about radical muslims and shariah law and then totally overall look this hatred.

        • ANonOMouse says:

          They don’t see hatred of LGBT people as hatred, they see it as their special brand of Xtian “Love”. The Southern Baptists, which is the primary protestant affiliation in the South, not only tolerates this, they preach it from the pulpits, much like they did segregation.

          Now these hate groups are exporting their gay hate message to 2nd/3rd world and developing countries because there’s big money in finding a scapegoat to blame for all the problems in the world. The reason they keep women veiled, covered, powerless and subservient, is the same reason they keep L/G’s in the category of sub-human sinner and often law breaker, control, power & money.

  6. ANonOMouse says:

    McDonald gets 2 years. I wonder which Country Club he’ll serve his sentence at.

    http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/06/politics/bob-mcdonnell-sentencing/index.html

  7. ANonOMouse says:

    Some really Good News

    President Obama Will Veto Keystone XL Pipeline Legislation

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/president-obama-will-veto-keystone-xl-pipeline-legislation/

  8. dakinikat says:

    @Adrastosno 1m1 minute ago
    I’m gobsmacked. Stole more than Edwin who got 10 years and served 8:Bob McDonnell Sentenced To 2 Years In Prison @TPM http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/bob-mcdonnell-sentenced-two-years-prison

  9. Love the skeptical looks on the nativity participants.

  10. dakinikat says:

    More on my friend Lamar!!!

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/2015/01/06/web-journalist-who-broke-scalise-scandal-i-knew/202028

    And look who has an inkling of integrity:

    Bill O’Reilly raised the issue on his Fox News program Monday night, interviewing EUARO leader David Duke about the issue and stating, “don’t sit here and tell me that you’re not trying to promote the cause of the white people, because you are.”

    • He may find he has a paying job writing and blogging soon.

      • bostonboomer says:

        So far, some new orgs. aren’t even using his name–just calling him “a Louisiana blogger.”

    • Fannie says:

      I am very proud of your friend Lamar, he’s worth all the gold in the world. Don’t stop now, he has our backs, because he honest and does his homework.

      Duke does what does best, sucks up the publicity. He yells and makes idle threats. And O’Reilly thought he was riding him out, and making him look bad. Pay attention, Duke thrives on that crap.

  11. dakinikat says:

    http://www.addictinginfo.org/2014/12/21/germany-files-human-rights-charges-against-bush-admin/

    Go Germany! These asses will never be able to leave the US again and we’re harboring their damn asses

  12. dakinikat says:

    Back to pre Roe v Wade

    National Journal ‏@nationaljournal 4m4 minutes ago
    Whether a woman can choose to have an abortion is a question of where in the U.S. she lives http://trib.al/2hG8lum

  13. bostonboomer says:

    The new GOP Congress is already attacking Social Security. I just got this in an e-mail:

    We knew that the new Republican Congress wanted to dismantle our Social Security system brick by brick—but we didn’t expect them to do it on their first day!

    They’ve taken what should be a dry, mundane exercise – the adoption of new rules by the newly convening House of Representatives – and turned it into a stealth attack on our Social Security system. This rule is nothing more than an attempt to divide people who believe in Social Security.

    We need to tell Congress we stand united on the side of our WHOLE Social Security system! We reject the games and forced crises. Social Security works, period.

    The new Republican rule prevents a simple technical amendment, known as “reallocation” – something that has been done many times over the history of Social Security, something that few persons other than actuaries and other Social Security experts ever know about – from being enacted in the next two years to ensure that all Social Security benefits continue to be paid in full and on time.

    The new rule mandates a 20% cut in benefits to disabled workers unless legislation is passed that either cuts workers’ Social Security retirement benefits or raises taxes.

    Social Security isn’t a hostage or a bargaining chip. It is a universal system based on the principle that we are stronger together. The program’s opponents seek to divide and conquer. They seek to turn young against old by falsely claiming that too much is being spent on the old. This time they seek to drive a wedge between retired workers and disabled workers by claiming that reallocation helps the disabled at the expense of retirees – another preposterous claim. All of these divide-and-conquer strategies are intended to turn Americans against each other so that all of our benefits can be cut.

    This is no way for elected officials to treat the constituents they are supposed to serve. Hostage-taking to force changes that the American people do not want to a vital program like Social Security is no way to run the United States of America. But if we stand together, this stealth effort to pull apart our Social Security will be defeated.

    Contact your congressman here:

    http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/6405/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=10757

  14. bostonboomer says:

    Explosive device goes off outside NAACP in Colorado

    COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO (BNO NEWS) — An improvised explosive device was detonated Tuesday outside a local chapter of the African-American civil rights organization NAACP in Colorado, but it failed to detonate as intended and caused no casualties, federal officials said. No arrests were made yet.

    The incident happened at about 10:45 a.m. local time when an explosion was heard outside a building housing a hair salon and the local NAACP chapter in Colorado Springs in the state of Colorado. There were no casualties and the explosion caused only minimal surface charring to the exterior wall of the building.

    “An improvised explosive device was detonated against the exterior wall of a building located at 603 South El Paso Boulevard,” said Special Agent Amy Sanders, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Denver Field Office. “A gasoline can had been placed adjacent to the device, however, the contents of the can did not ignite upon explosion.”

    The motive for the attack was not immediately known, but Sanders said authorities were looking for a potential person of interest described as a Caucasian male, approximately 40 years of age, and balding. “He may be driving a 2000 or older model dirty, white pick-up truck with paneling, a dark colored bed liner, open tailgate, and a missing or covered license plate,” she said.

  15. dakinikat says:

    Congress after Social Security already

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/social-security-di-house-rules-change

    With a little-noticed proposal, Republicans took aim at Social Security on the very first day of the 114th Congress.

    The incoming GOP majority approved late Tuesday a new rule that experts say could provoke an unprecedented crisis that conservatives could use as leverage in upcoming debates over entitlement reform.

    The largely overlooked change puts a new restriction on the routine transfer of tax revenues between the traditional Social Security retirement trust fund and the Social Security disability program. The transfers, known as reallocation, had historically been routine; the liberal Center for Budget and Policy Priorities said Tuesday that they had been made 11 times. The CBPP added that the disability insurance program “isn’t broken,” but the program has been strained by demographic trends that the reallocations are intended to address.

    The House GOP’s rule change would still allow for a reallocation from the retirement fund to shore up the disability fund — but only if an accompanying proposal “improves the overall financial health of the combined Social Security Trust Funds,” per the rule, expected to be passed on Tuesday. While that language is vague, experts say it would likely mean any reallocation would have to be balanced by new revenues or benefit cuts.

    House Democrats are sounding the alarm. In a memo circulated to their allies Tuesday, Democratic staffers said that that would mean “either new revenues or benefit cuts for current or future beneficiaries.” New revenues are highly unlikely to be approved by the deeply tax-averse Republican-led Congress, leaving benefit cuts as the obvious alternative.

    The Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees estimated last year that the disability insurance program would run short of money to pay all benefits some time in late 2016. Without a new reallocation, disability insurance beneficiaries could face up to 20 percent cuts in their Social Security payments in late 2016 — a chit that would be of use to Republicans pushing for conservative entitlement reforms.

    “The rule change would prohibit a simple reallocation! It will require more significant and complex changes to Social Security,” Social Security Works, an advocacy group, said in a statement Tuesday. “In other words, the Republican rule will allow Social Security to be held hostage.”

    Policy wonks who follow Social Security saw the GOP rule change as a play for leverage.

  16. Fannie says:

    When they vote tomorrow on SS, will they be using a voice vote?

  17. dakinikat says:

    wtf?

    http://jezebel.com/phyllis-schlafly-college-women-get-raped-because-they-1677798292

    Phyllis Schlafly: College Women Get Raped Because They Go to College