Let’s put our heads together and start a new country up

Let’s put our heads together and start a new country up June 24, 2019

The Smithsonian marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River fire. “To the surprise of no one who worked on the Cuyahoga, an oil slick on the river caught fire the morning of Sunday, June 22, 1969. …”

The massively polluted river also burned — a river burned — in “1868, 1883, 1887, 1912, 1922, 1936, 1941, 1948 and 1952.”

The relatively minor fire in 1969 wasn’t big news at the time, but it gradually took on mythic status as a symbol as it slowly sunk in that water isn’t supposed to burn and maybe we didn’t have to just accept that toxic, flammable rivers are just an inevitable aspect of progress and prosperity.

• These are the days of huge news that doesn’t make the front page, history-book-chapter news that flashes by and that no one even talks about two days later.

Robyn Pennacchia writes:

I absolutely believe her. You, I assume, believe her too.

So do, most likely, most of Trump’s supporters. At the very least, it is highly unlikely that they truly believe he has never raped anyone. They might not think of it exactly that way. They may think of it as him being very “alpha” and not willing to take no for an answer, but they probably don’t think he’s never put his shriveled little dick inside a woman who did not say she wanted it there.

… It’s depressing to know that they are not going to care. That they will make whatever excuses they need to, just as they will with anything else he says or does. It is depressing to be constantly reminded of that each time something like this comes out. We do not want to have to go through the part where we hear or read the excuses.

81 percent.If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town.”

When the rivers are on fire, it’s time to start imagining a better way of life.

The Cuyahoga River burns in 1948. (Cleveland State University Library via The Smithsonian)

• Speaking of stories that seem like they should be bigger news: “Militia threat shuts down Oregon Statehouse amid walkout.”

Nothing to see here, just heavily armed white supremacist gangs forcing a state legislature to close to prevent a vote on a moderate, market-based cap-and-trade bill.

• Here’s a piece of Good News from the weekend: “Supreme Court Strikes Down Conviction of Mississippi Man on Death Row for 22 Years.”

I’ll point you toward Alan Bean, who has been doggedly writing about this case for most of those 22 years: “Why the Supreme Court sided with Curtis Flowers (and where we go from here).”

• “Video captures sexist comments to women ministers — read by male counterparts.”

The United Methodist video follows one made by the North Carolina Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America last year titled “Seriously? Actual things said to female pastors in the NC Synod.” The North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church also used the tactic in a 2016 video titled “Her Truth.”

After the success of the Lutheran synod’s video last year, conference leaders first thought to show the Lutheran version. When they decided to produce their own and sent out an email to women ministers asking them to submit comments anonymously, the response was voluminous.

If the object was to make United Methodists uncomfortable with the sexism that female ministers routinely experience, it achieved that goal in the responses of male clergy who read the remarks. Many squirm and roll their eyes as they read out loud the words the women ministers submitted. (The female ministers did not read the comments themselves because it might betray and shame their congregants.)

• “Don, Jerry, the ‘Pool Boy’ and The Times.” Josh Marshall offers a good summary of the weird, slow-dripping saga involving Jerry Falwell Jr., a money-losing gay-friendly beach hostel and liquor store, a million-dollar sweetheart loan to a South Beach pool boy, Michael Cohen, Tom Arnold, racy photos, and a strangely timed political endorsement.

TPM’s Nicole Lafond and Rolling Stone’s Ryan Bort also take a crack at summarizing what’s been reported — and, more importantly, what hasn’t been, even after The New York Times and Miami Herald have started to wade into this strange tale.

We’re still just squinting at a murky collection of oddities that don’t add up. “The rich are different,” Fitzgerald said, and maybe impulsive investments in odd real estate deals with young strangers is just the kind of rich-person behavior that seems as routine to a millionaire like Falwell as it seems odd to the rest of us.

In any case, the reporter I’m watching most closely on this story is still Buzzfeed’s Aram Roston, who seems to be sitting back quietly while a bunch of other reporters take their shot at the story he has almost, but not quite, previously reported. His earlier reports have presented disconnected dots and apparent tangents that may or may not be as tangential as they at first seem. It reads like the kind of story a reporter knows, but can’t yet document in print. And whatever that story is that Roston has been tracking, it’s not quite the same thing as what The Times and the Herald and those other summaries have found so far.

Semi-related, at least, perhaps more so: “Liberty Lays Off a Dozen Divinity School Faculty.”

• The title of this post, suggested by the Smithsonian piece above, is from REM’s “Cuyahoga.”

(Could’ve gone with Adam Again’s “River on Fire” too, I suppose, but that one’s pretty bleak.)

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