• “I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid,” Donald Trump promised as a candidate for president. “Every other Republican’s going to cut, and even if they wouldn’t, they don’t know what to do because they don’t know where the money is. I do.”
As president, Trump is now attempting to cut $845 billion from Medicare and billions more from Medicaid.
• Contemplate the theory that we humans are the deserving recipients of God’s infinite contempt. Or, worse than that, the idea that this universe is governed by an all-powerful being inclined toward infinite contempt, an Almighty Creator for whom infinite contempt toward creation is the default setting. Such a theology — what C.S. Lewis described as the idea of God as a “cosmic vivisectionist” — is the stuff of nightmares.
Literally. It is an idea that both arises from and gives rise to terrifying fever dreams: “Another factor is a dream that I had about a dozen years ago. Without going into too much detail, this was an unnerving encounter in which I saw God’s coming judgment arriving in the form of an overpowering storm; people in the path of the storm were pleasantly chit-chatting when they ought to have been seeking cover. The dream left a lasting impression.”
I guess it did. But I also believe that God is better than our nightmares. I believe that “God is good” is not a statement that requires us to redefine goodness so as to reconcile its meaning with infinite cruelty. Less abstractly, my theology is based on the idea that what we need to know about God is revealed to us in Jesus Christ — the Jesus who said, “Father forgive them, they know not what they do” and not “Avenge me, Father, by torturing all these ungrateful fuckers for eternity! Sweep them away while they sit chit-chatting!”
I believe, in other words, that when 1 John says “God is love,” it means exactly that, and not some warped idea of divine “tough love” where, you know, God is a stern parent who sometimes has to demonstrate love by firmly torturing God’s children for all of eternity with no hope of relief.
(Corollary: I believe that anyone who defends the notion of eternal conscious torment using the analogy of a parent’s “tough love” ought to be thoroughly investigated by Child Protective Services, because they’re exactly the kind of person who, when their child asks for bread, would give them a stone, or if their child asked for a fish would give them a viper.)
Anyway, you can read that Christianity Today interview with Michael McClymond and plow through his two-volume argument that God is far, far worse than you hope or dread God might be. Or you can just go watch Michael Shannon in Take Shelter.
Fifty people, including Hollywood stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, were charged Tuesday in a scheme in which wealthy parents allegedly bribed college coaches and other insiders to get their children into some of the nation’s most elite schools.
Federal authorities called it the biggest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department, with the parents accused of paying an estimated $25 million in bribes.
“These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said in announcing the results of an investigation code-named Operation Varsity Blues.
Bribery and fraud are bad. Using your wealth and privilege to cheat at the national zero-sum, musical-chairs game of elite college admissions is bad.
The fact that college and education in general have become a zero-sum national game of musical chairs in the first place is worse. Harvard and Yale and all the others are — by there own admission and by their own admissions — no longer primarily in the education business. They are in the business of creating greater access to wealth and privilege for those who already have both in abundance.• Speaking of the buying and selling of access by people who view life as a zero-sum game and who have already accumulated more wealth and privilege than most could ever dream of …
It has seemed odd from the very beginning that New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, a billionaire several times over, would patronize a massage parlor called the Orchids of Asia for a little quickie on his way to the AFC championship game. After all, men like Kraft can easily hire high end escorts and they often have mistresses on the side. Why go to a cheap strip mall?
But Kraft wasn’t the only vastly wealthy john who got caught in the sting that has put him in the headlines. Private equity mogul John Childs and former Citigroup president John Havens were also arrested. There is obviously more to this sordid story of Chinese sex trafficking to come out in the days to come. With the recent re-evaluation of the extremely disturbing Jeffrey Epstein case from the previous decade, it seems that an illegal sex trade has been thriving in the ultra-rich enclaves of South Florida.
A woman named Cindy Yang founded the “day spa” where all these wealthy powerful men went to release their … stress. Although Yang no longer owns the specific business where Kraft was videotaped receiving oral sex, it was known for offering the same “services” in her time. Her family still operates several similar enterprises that are also under suspicion for sex trafficking and prostitution. And wouldn’t you know it, Yang is a big-time Republican who now owns a company that sells access to another wealthy and powerful man with a big presence in South Florida: the president of the United States.
The Miami Herald first reported that Yang had attended a Super Bowl gathering at Mar-a-Lago, and produced a selfie of Yang and President Trump posing together at the party. The Herald also published pictures of other events showing Yang and Trump’s adult sons, along with a trio of Florida Republicans — Sen. Rick Scott, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Rep. Matt Gaetz — as well as onetime vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin and Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel.
So Cindy Yang is well-connected to powerful Republican insiders and she helps others gain access to them too, for a price. She is able to purchase such access for her paying clients in part because she has already purchased it for herself as a “donor” to the party and evidently as a dues-paying member of Mar-a-Lago-a-Go-Go. But money may not be the only reason she can guarantee her clients such access.
Police in Florida say they captured video of Kraft’s massage and “happy ending” by sneaking in a camera. I find it unlikely that theirs was the only camera or that their is the only video.
Oh, and it seems that in addition to being a member of the National Committee of the Asian American Republican Party and an accused-sex-trafficker, Cindy Yang also serves on the boards of two other organizations with direct ties to China’s ruling Communist Party. More than two dozen James Bond movies have tricked us into thinking that international espionage is glamorous. More often it’s as tawdry as a tugjob in a Florida stripmall.
• The title of this post comes from an old classic that we might think of as Willie Nelson’s version of The Great Divorce. In this rendition, the part of the father in the parable of the Prodigal Sons is played by Kacey Musgraves: