As Billy Kwan asked, ‘What then must we do?’

Billy Kwan, making a point…

I was listening at Mass on Sunday — I really was, to the best of my ability. But until I went back and read the Gospel reading again, and some commentary on it, I missed something that should have grabbed my attention right away. Here’s the relevant first half of the reading:

Lk 3:10-18

The crowds asked John the Baptist,
“What should we do?”
He said to them in reply,
“Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none.
And whoever has food should do likewise.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,
“Teacher, what should we do?”
He answered them,
“Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”
Soldiers also asked him,
“And what is it that we should do?”
He told them,
“Do not practice extortion,
do not falsely accuse anyone,
and be satisfied with your wages….”

Hours later, it hit me: That’s the passage Billy Kwan loved so much!

That memory is from a movie I loved so much, and have always thought should get more attention than it does: “The Year of Living Dangerously.”

There are so many reasons for that. Among them:

  • I’m not a huge Mel Gibson fan, but I think this was his best.
  • He played a journalist, and a large part of the conflict is his struggling to handle certain moral questions raised by obsession with getting the story, no matter what. It’s an actual moral question that journalism raises, different from the irrelevant things most critics of media raise.
  • Sigourney Weaver.
  • The fact that it’s set in the Third World, at the same time that I was living in a very different part of that world, also as a Western outsider. There’s something in the atmosphere of it that seems very right and accurate.
  • Various esthetic considerations, from the cinematography to the music.
  • The amazing fact that this was Linda Hunt’s greatest role, and she was portraying a man. Not to make any sort of latter-day Identity Politics point, but because she could, and she did a fantastic job.
  • Billy’s question, which pervades the film.

Anyway, I just thought I’d share that. Here’s the scene in which Billy shares this question of ultimate import to him — and to us all, if we’re as good as Billy. I always remember it the way he says it, “What then must we do?” And in our Scripture reading the “then” is left out, which is probably what caused me to fail to recognize it right away (also, it’s “should” instead of “must,” but that wouldn’t have thrown me off if the “then” had been there — a matter of rhythm). I just realized a few moments ago that he said it that way because he was citing the title of Tolstoy’s book, which he mentions in the scene…

89 thoughts on “As Billy Kwan asked, ‘What then must we do?’

  1. Bryan Caskey

    Haven’t seen this movie. Heck, I’ve never heard of this movie. I’ll have to check and see if it’s on Netflix.

    1. Bart

      You should take the time to watch it. Mel Gibson and cast did a really good job and the story line was compelling. Linda Hunt has always been a favorite of mine.

        1. Bart

          Thanks for the post. Started watching, will have to finish later. So far, really enjoyable.

          Recognize some of Aboriginal actors from other movies.

          I think Richard Chamberlain is underrated as an actor.

          Over the years, have enjoyed several of the BBC series located in Australia.

  2. Barry

    This topic seems pretty dead (Who could have predicted….) so i will brag

    My college junior just finished up another semester majoring in computer science and astronomy while also winning several programming competitions at school this year.

  3. Barry

    Other big news this week

    Urban Meyer appears on his way out as the coach of the Jacksonville Jags. The 1 year NFL coach has blamed a lot of people for the team’s results and the players don’t like him either. Unlike a certain politician, when Meyer has blamed everyone but himself, it hasn’t created any love and has only alienated people. The rules still apply to Urban.

    The Gamecocks picked up a huge quarterback commit in Oklahoma QB transfer Spencer Rattler. The former 5 star QB for the Sooners has a big time arm and has great running ability. On talent, he will be a huge upgrade at the position. But will he have anyone to protect him, or throw the ball to? Time will tell.

    The SC House reversed course last week on a dime after severe pushback from the business community and banned vaccine mandates that would apply to public sector workers, including EMS workers. So if this passes the Senate, an EMS or first responder worker showing up at your home to assist, might not be vaccinated so be aware. This is especially important to note for elderly people.

    The business community pushed back immediately on the Republican led House that wanted to interfere in their places of business. Odd since the same GOP led House is, in theory at least, is publicly against government intrusion on places of business. The SC House doesn’t listen to many people, but they pretty consistently take orders from the business community.

    No word if those same legislators will be consistent and also seek to ban vaccine mandates for school children who are currently required, by SC law, to get all sorts of jabs of foreign material into their little bodies. Essentially a “no comment” seems to be the standard answer.

  4. John

    Here’s a thought…don’t like the topic? Don’t comment. You’d rather talk about current events? Knock yourself out, start your own damn blog and quit trying to hijack Brad’s.

    1. Barry

      Brad or Bryan approve the comments. They do a pretty good job for the most part and I leave it to them.

      If they only approved posts that stuck to the topic generated, my opinion is most (not all) topics would die almost immediately.

      1. Bill

        Without comments,there’d be no one reading and no one deleting …
        You wanna keep it YOURS,get a personal diary that doesn’t run ads;

        Old John the baptist, old John divine
        Leather harness round his line
        His meat was locust and honey
        Wild honey lord, wild honey
        John saw that number
        Way in the middle of the air
        Cryin’ holy, holy to the Lord
        Old John the baptist, old John divine
        Frogs and snakes are gonna get John this time
        God told the angel “go see about John”
        So he flew from the pit with the moon round his waist
        Gathered wind in his fists so the stars round his wrists
        Cryin’ holy, holy to the lord
        Read the revelations, you’ll find him there
        Third chapter, fourth verse where he said unto me
        “There’s a beast that rose out of the sea”
        Ten crowns, ten crowns
        On his horns write “blasphemy”
        John couldn’t read it (John couldn’t read it)
        Get on repeat it
        John couldn’t read it
        Holy, holy to the Lord
        There was a man, a pharisee
        Who came by night to meet him
        Said “I know thy teacher came from God cause no man can do such miracles
        Without the lord to entreat him”
        God told the angel “go see about John”
        So he flew from the pit with the moon round his waist
        Gathered wind in his fists and the stars round his wrists
        Cryin’ holy, holy to the Lord
        Holy, holy to the Lord
        Holy, holy to the Lord…

  5. Bart

    Okay, will join the fray of posting something not related to the subject of the thread. More than one can play the game. Prefer not to but at this point, why not? At least the article is relevant to each and every one and not exacerbating the issues that divide us.

    The link is to an article from MarketWatch. It is worth the time to read and absorb the message from Ray Dalio. (Mark Stewart, what is your opinion of Dalio?)

    He gets to the heart of the problem, and he does it by studying history and applying historical data against what is transpiring today in our country and the world. I intend buying his book since it appears to be one of common sense and pragmatic in its approach.

    1. Barry

      “At least the article is relevant to each and every one and not exacerbating the issues that divide us.”

      monetary policy certainly divides us. The issues raised in that article cause plenty of divide. Our two major parties look at those issues differently.

      I agree with him that a civil war of some type is coming. Like him, I’m not real sure what it looks like right now, but it’s a certainty. You can’t have tens of millions of people with different values living their lives having vastly different sets of facts they believe without some type of conflict- and eventually some major conflict.

      Ignoring topics that “divide us” or not talking about them is no better than talking about them ad nauseam. While they are no solutions to these divides, a blog and debate should be at least a touch enjoyable.

      from former Presidential advisor Steve Bannon, who still frequently talks with Donald Trump and Freedom Caucus members

      Framing Western politics as a form of warfare, Bannon stated, “Whether that’s in Italy, whether that’s in France, whether that’s in England, the United States…we’re going to win this thing, if we quit, and that’s what they hope we do, if you quit then they’re going to be in control.”

      Theo Usherwood of LBC radio interjected into the conversation, saying Bannon’s right-wing rant “sounds like a call to arms.”

      Bannon responded, “Absolutely, It is, it’s war. The problem is the conservatives, and people in the United States and England have been too nice. If you’ve got the same grit we saw in the trenches in the western front, if you’ve got the same grit that was at Normandy that won World War II…we’re going to win this thing.”

      1. Barry

        Tonight my buddy Michael Smerconish talked with attorney Ron Filipkowski on CNN.

        Ron correctly predicted that there would likely be violence on January 6th because of what he had found on some extremist websites in November and December 2020.

        Ron tracks extremists and currently spends time monitoring right wing extremist sites (including Steve Bannon and those like him) about their efforts to pursue violence and cause disturbances.

        Great interview.

    2. Mark Stewart

      Sorry Bart, will let him speak for himself.

      IMHO, we should be.more centrist so that we can, unified, be the shining example of democracy that causes China to implode. It is either that or we will have a war with them; which will return us to a situation not faced since the Civil War – unrestrained warfare. Can we find the will to reestablish a national sense of duty?

      1. Bart

        Good reply, thanks.

        Agree with your comment. My concern is if we can ever be unified enough at this low point in the ability for the two factions to come together for a common cause.

        The recent aggressive actions by China are unsettling and provocative enough for serious concern. Their apparent re-unification efforts with Russia and Putin sends signals to the world that are less than friendly and by both countries and Iran engaging in cooperative war games and exercises, the message is clear.

        Now that Russia has gathered over one hundred thousand troops and equipment on the border of Ukraine, they too are sending the same message China is sending to Taiwan. It would not be a surprise if simultaneous actions by Russia and China were taken against Ukraine and Taiwan. That would be the ideal move and would create an international crisis that would force the US, UK, and the NATO members to make a hard decision. Go to war with both countries or acquiesce to their hostile actions? The mere thought or possibility of another world war boggles the mind and the images of the horrors it would bring to all nations.

        I share your desire for us to reestablish a national sense of duty but have doubts it can be achieved unless we are attacked militarily first. If an attack were to take place, I believe there are still enough citizens who would be willing to put aside differences and join together for a common cause.

        Hope you and your family have a great weekend and wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Think I will try to refrain from engaging in further blog conversations until the holidays are over.

      2. Barry

        Will Donald Trump be the next Speaker of the House and how would that impact Relations with China and Russia since Trump highly praises both leaders constantly, including this past week?

        Last week a group of Freedom Caucus members in the House stated they would nominate him as speaker in 2022.

        Also of note, Republican House member Louie Gohmert told Fox News on Saturday that:

        1) the COVID vaccines change your “genetics” (The Fox host didn’t not push back)
        2) cause reproductive damage. (The Fox host didn’t not push back)
        3) promised that when the GOP takes over, they will seek to jail Dr Fauci and other government scientists.

        GOP House minority leader has promised to install folks Gohmert, Marjorie Greene, and Paul Gosar into leading positions in a new Congress. .

  6. Bart

    “Ignoring topics that “divide us” or not talking about them is no better than talking about them ad nauseam.”

    Well, it is for sure you have the “ad nauseam” aspect covered and covered well.

  7. Doug Ross

    Today’s headline:

    Biden Bungles Build Back Better Bill

    Imagine blaming one Senator for your inability to unite the country like you promised. What marlarkey!

    Here’s what I’d like to see – Joe Biden and Joe Manchin in a live TV debate where Biden tries to convince Manchin to vote for it. No teleprompter, no staff written notes. Let’s see how on the ball Joe is. Let’s watch the consummate uniter in chief works.

    How long til the approval rating sinks below 35? Another month of COVID inaction?

    1. Bryan Caskey

      There’s no reason for us to assume that any given president will get what he wants legislatively. Any president who assumes that does so at his peril.

      All of this is on Biden. He was elected with by a slim margin, had a thin majority in the House and an even Senate. When advisors told him he could be an FDR-LBJ type president, he foolishly believed them, maybe out of vanity…who knows.

      He should have told those advisors to hit the road. However, he ended up to over-promise and then under-deliver.

          1. Doug Ross

            What would have had greater support – a public health option or universal Pre-K? Eliminating school loans or nebulous climate change initiatives?

      1. Doug Ross

        Watch this press conference from early November starting at the 9:50 mark with a question about Manchin and then a followup about inflation. What a rambling mess — he spends a lot time looking down at his note cards but then just steers off into some story about Thanksgiving.

      2. Barry

        I still recall after George Bush winning in 2000, there was a groundswell of media attention as well as public sentiment that he should govern from the center. After all, he had won by the most slim of margins in a divided country. That sort of made sense given the Supreme Court basically had to decide the election.

        I still remember listening to Rush Limbaugh who was about the only Conservative voice on radio at the time, but even then he was the voice of Conservatism, stating that Bush should ignore such talk and pursue his agenda and push for it hard. That he should not seek to compromise on anything and should govern like he won 99% of the vote. Conservatives agreed. Bush should govern without regard to the vote total. I know because I was one at the time.

        Biden ran on the Build Back Better agenda. He spoke about it constantly. It should be no surprise that he’d try everything he could to get it passed.

        Interestingly enough, when you poll Americans on the BBB elements, it polls high.

        For example, the House version of the bill adds $150 billion over 10 years in funding for Medicaid home care for seniors and people with disabilities- the largest funding increase for this program since it’s inception.

        How popular is it? FiveThirtyEight, reports that a Politico/Morning Consult poll of registered voters found that 76% supported the expansion.

        Allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices? 71 percent of registered voters supported doing so.

        Allowing Medicaid to expand hearing, dental and vision services for poor people? 75 percent of registered voters support it.

        1. Barry

          The surprising part to me is that Joe Manchin would work so hard against a bill that has so many elements that would directly aid so many poor people in West Virginia.

          West Virginia has a large % of their population that would qualify for these expanded benefits given the very low number of citizens there that have coverage for services like dental visits and vision checks.

          Of course, it doesn’t go unnoticed that Manchin has some competing interests in terms of his daughter’s health care business and his own financial ties to the coal industry.

          and of course the report that Manchin told some folks that he didn’t like the expanded child care credit because folks in his state just spent it on drugs anyway sort of lends itself to questioning his sincerity.

          1. Ken

            Manchin only cares for Manchin. It’s clear that he represents what he calls the “extractive state,” not the much vaunted hard working people of West Virginia.

        2. Bryan Caskey

          So your advice to Biden would have been to follow this maximalist, partisan course because that’s what George W. Bush did in 2000? How did that work out for George W. Bush? It seems that you are saying Biden’s path is what you would have recommended simply because you want to have a tit-for-tat plan of “Hey George W. Bush did this same thing twenty years ago, and even though it didn’t work out for him…uh….I guess we’ll show them!

          Seems like a bad governing philosophy to me, but okay. You do you.

          Biden won election by claiming he could make Washington work and had enough relationships across the aisle to revive bipartisanship. Instead, Biden immediately shifted to a hard-progressive agenda and a maximalist-majoritarian strategy that the math of the Senate made impossible to maintain. Failure was not just an option, it was entirely predictable.

          1. Doug Ross

            Everything about the Biden presidency has been entirely predictable so far. An old politician who spouted a bunch of lies to win the nomination and then the general election.

            Now he’s going to tell us tonight about a plan to ship COVID tests to Americans — if they request them from a website. Remember how well the Obamacare website “worked”? Remember during the election when we were told the USPS was swamped and unable to process ballot envelopes? How many elderly people (those most at risk) will be able to figure out how to order the test kits? As with nearly all government run programs, this will be an exercise in bureaucracy and screwing up. I bet Walmart and Amazon could get the test kits out to more people in less time.

            We were told over and over that Joe was ready to lead, ready to unite, had all the plans ready to go based on his years of experience. Turns out all he can barely do is read off a teleprompter. Luckily, the chance he will run again is getting closer and closer to zero.

          2. Barry

            Well, not quite.

            I don’t think anyone can succeed in today’s world coming into office and trying to negotiate against what they proposed in the first place. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. The main elements of BBB should not have been a surprise to anyone paying any attention to Biden’s campaign.

            There are numerous members of Congress that won their offices with much tighter margins than Joe Biden. I don’t hear you or anyone else suggesting they should try to appeal to the people that didn’t vote for them. I don’t hear you or anyone else saying they should try to tamp down their own proposals because…. well, because….

            Biden did say he could make Washington work. That was a mistake. Washington doesn’t work and no one can change that fact.

            Biden didn’t make it work
            Trump didn’t make it work
            Obama didn’t make it work
            Bush didn’t make it work
            Clinton didn’t make it work
            Bush didn’t make it work
            Reagan didn’t make it work
            Carter didn’t make it work
            Ford didn’t make it work

            notice a pattern?

            Conservatives running against Democrats and Joe Biden aren’t promising bi-partisanship and working to meet in the middle. They didn’t promise that under Trump. They are, right now, promising the exact opposite.

            Mitch McConnell, as soon as Biden was elected (as he did with Trump) promised that Republicans would not work with Joe Biden. Now, he did backtrack on that slightly given he did support the infrastructure bill (Given that it had a huge pork project for Kentucky’s DOT to replace the Brent Spence Bridge – which Trump also promised to get replaced but never followed through).

            Shouldn’t you be spending at least 10% of your effort trying to convince your own side to tamp down the rhetoric? Are you calling for them to work for compromise too? Sure doesn’t seem so.

            The most popular sentiment right now in GOP circles is running for 2022 and jailing Dr. Anthony Fauci. That’s the statement that gets the most applause and it’s what numerous Republican officials are repeating in campaign events as we speak.

            Odd, I don’t hear people like you pleading with your own side to stop that dangerous talk. I just see a lot of finger pointing at the other side. There is no credibility in pointing those fingers.

          3. Barry

            BTW Bryan

            “So your advice to Biden would have been to follow this maximalist, partisan course because that’s what George W. Bush did in 2000? ”

            So your advice to Conservatives who win election is to work for compromise and not to try to force through your election proposals – if the other side won’t go along?

            Just trying to understand. Because there are no Conservatives in Congress or running for election that will follow that game plan. That has to really frustrate you.

              1. Barry

                I’m consistent. I’m not the one advocating for a president to negotiate against himself, to water down his own proposal that he laid out during a campaign that he won, to get votes he won’t get anyway.

                Now I’m asking you

                So your advice to Conservatives who win election is to work for compromise and not to try to force through their election proposals – if the other side won’t go along?

                That would be your admonition to Conservatives? That’s your expectation? I ask because clearly that is what you expect Biden and Congressional Democrats to do. So obviously you expect Conservatives to do that as well, right? I mean you are consistent, correct?

                And if that is your expectation what in the world are you reading or observing that gives you the idea that Conservatives are looking to win and then compromise?

                I know you and i live on different totally different planets but i thought we might, just might, be in the same universe.

  8. Barry

    News from the media on this Monday

    Sunday, Donald Trump delivered what was called a “Christmas message” at First Baptist Church of Dallas, one of the largest churches in the country. The church, led by vocal Trump booster Robert Jeffress gave Trump a rousing standing ovation as the politician to come to the pulpit to give his “prayer.”

    Of course Trump offered no prayer. Trump proceeded to talk about inflation, gas prices, the border, and Afghanistan. He then said that he was “a little offended” when Pastor Jeffress had said once that Trump “may not know the bible that well.” He then said Jeffress described him as someone who would be “saving Christianity.” Of course. After all, what all powerful God doesn’t need Donald Trump to save Christianity?

    Is there anyone anywhere, even the most ardent Trump apologist, that believes Trump could speak about the atoning sacrifice of Christ and make a lick of sense? anyway….

    more news….

    Fox News Host Jesse Watters told an audience of large gathering of Conservative college students this weekend that someone should go for the “kill shot” regarding Dr. Anthony Fauci. He was speaking about interviewing Fauci but the violent language was a shocker (but not really considering it was a Fox News employee)

    (a side note: I’ve always wondered what characteristics that college students share that allow them to be able to travel to resort destinations for 4-5 days right before Christmas to hear political speeches by people they agree with).

    Donald Trump told Bill O’Reilly at his Trump’s rally in Texas that he did get his booster shot. O’Reilly said he did as well. The audience loudly booed both for a few seconds.

    Now, will Joe Manchin switch parties? It seems Joe would be more at home in the Republican Party. Joe was very, very careful to not criticize Donald Trump when Trump was President – often demuring when directly asked about Trump by saying that Trump was the President and Presidents get to decide……….. Manchin has been generally complimentary of Biden. But he doesn’t seem to have the same standard for Joe Biden as he did for Donald Trump. But Manchin seems more at home as a Republican opposition force.

    If he switches parties, should Biden fire Manchin’s wife? He appointed her to co-chair the Appalachian Regional Commission.

    Former President Trump has sued the New York Attorney General for investigating his businesses. He also released a statement with lots of name-calling and personal attacks against her. For her part, she stated that her office doesn’t decide to drop cases based on the subject of the investigation not liking the investigation.

    Republican Adam Kinzinger said over the weekend that all the texts have not been released that the Jan 6 commission has in their possession. He also suggested that some of the texts that have not been released yet could involve his GOP colleagues.

    Locally, there has been a large spike in violent threats, usually gun related, to schools in South Carolina. There is a report today about how schools are seeing a large increase in mental health challenges from school kids. Just a few weeks ago, there was a huge fight caught on video at AC Flora High School. Actually, it’s better to say there were numerous large fights. I saw the videos. They were disturbing.

    Since October, at least 8 weapons have been found in schools. Irmo, Northside Christian, Summerville, Laurens, Hilton Head are just some of the schools.

    1. Doug Ross

      Nobody cares about what Trump does any more except liberals suffering PTSD and liberal media who miss their ratings. Good to see two CNN producers were arrested for sexual misconduct involving minors last week.

      1. Barry

        Plenty of people care.

        I do for one.

        The large gathering of Trumpers at First Baptist Church in Dallas care as well as the people that paid over $100 to attend Trump rallies in Florida and Texas this past weekend care.

        The large gathering of college students in Arizona that also featured numerous current members of Congress who all swore allegiance to Trump in their speeches this past weekend clearly, obviously care. Heck, one repeated his claim that he would nominate Trump for Speaker a year from now.

        Yes, it was good to see the CNN producer charged. Sadly, Fox News has also had this same exact issue in the past.

        Incidentally, former Fox News correspondent James Rosen was hired by the Conservative network Newsmax as their White House correspondent this past week. Rosen was eventually fired at Fox News after numerous women (as many as 8) came forward stating he physically and sexually assualted them.

        Rosen replaces former White House correspondent Emerald Robinson after they fired her after numerous instances where she embarrassed them with constant conspiracy theory promotion.

        1. Doug Ross

          You somehow think that when you mention Fox News to me that you got me. Anyone who invents “news” on Fox, CNN, and MSNBC are the same to me. Talking heads staring into the camera hyping the latest fear mongering swill. The odd thing is that there are plenty of liberals who slavishly watch Fox just to get riled up about what they say. Works great for their ratings. Meanwhile, conservatives don’t bother with blowhards like Maddow, Cuomo, Reid, Cooper, etc. except to ridicule their idiocy.

          1. Barry

            Not at all. I just came across the Fox News info recently and thought of it when you mentioned the CNN producers.

            Fox is the elephant in the room because of the hold they have over the Republican party. Just this past weekend, a long line of Fox personalities spoke at the conservative conference in Arizona. Heck, they are broadcasting from there like it’s a political convention. CNN and MSNBC don’t broadcast from such conferences in that manner on the Left.

            Fox has strong reach onto Capitol Hill. What is stated on Fox is repeated on hundreds of Conservative talk shows- sometimes word for word- the next day across the country. There is no equivalent with Democrats.

            MSNBC and CNN do not hold sway over the Democratic Party. Maybe if their ratings were higher they would. Their ratings combined do pull them ahead of Fox. But individually, they don’t have the same power.

            Mehment Oz announced his Senate candidacy on then ran to Fox News.

            An additional tidbit about how influential Fox News is……………….

            From Yahoo News…

            Michael Smerconish, a life-long Pennsylvanian, told listeners on his Sirius XM radio show that he ran into Oz at a Christmas party and asked him to appear on either his Sirius XM radio show or the CNN show he’s been hosting since Chris Cuomo was fired earlier this month.

            “I don’t think he had any idea who I was,” Smerconish admitted, but he said he hoped Oz, who is running as a Republican in Pennsylvania, would come on either show to make a case for his candidacy to more moderate voters.

            “I said to him, ‘I’d really like to get you on my program, and I will treat you with dignity and respect,’” Smerconish said, according to Mediaite.

            However, Oz declined.

            “He proceeds to say to me, ‘I can’t possibly do that because it would upset everybody at Fox. And I’ll come on your show after the primary.’”

            Smerconish said he might be “violating a Christmas party confidence” by discussing the meeting with his listeners but said he also told Oz, “Dr. Oz, you can’t pull this off without reaching independents and centrists.’”

            Oz wasn’t swayed.

            “He said to me, ‘The mission right now is to win the primary,’” Smerconish said, adding, “This was surreal.”

            HuffPost reached out to the Oz campaign for comment, but no one immediately responded.

            1. Ken

              “What is stated on Fox is repeated on hundreds of Conservative talk shows- sometimes word for word- the next day across the country.”

              Very much so. I remember when this became clear to me. It was a few years ago when a neighbor repeated practically word-for-word the outrage of the day (because there’s always SOMETHING to be outraged about) circulating in the right-wing mediaverse that day — in this case on 94.5 The Answer. I just happened to have listened to the station that day to get a taste of their Orwellian two minutes of fury (which of course lasts far beyond 2 minutes and effectively constitutes much of their daily broadcast).

              So the habitat goes far beyond Fox.

          2. Barry

            “Meanwhile, conservatives don’t bother with blowhards like Maddow, Cuomo, Reid, Cooper, etc. except to ridicule their idiocy”

            uh, yeah – No.

            I was a regular listener of Cuomo’s Sirius XM radio show. Conservatives called him all the time. He loved to take their calls. On his radio show, he wasn’t nearly the “liberal” that people that watched him on CNN would think.

            If they didn’t “bother” with him, they sure had a funny way of showing it because they sure did call him an awful lot.

            Of course there is also the Conservatives that would try to get him into arguments when he was out with his family- some of those encounters ended up on video.

            One quick way to get conservatives worked up is to mention CNN on social media. Since they worship at the altar of Fox, any mention of CNN and MSNBC creates fireworks.

  9. Barry

    I forgot to mention

    Wendy Rogers, the current Arizona Senate Republican who has led efforts to overturn the election in Arizona and who has hosted and continues to host numerous 2022 republican Congressional candidates over the past few months, on Monday, publicly called for a “return to McCarthyism.”

    Even some of her GOP colleagues have stated, off the record of course, that she seems to have become an extremist. (She has called for jailing her political opponents numerous times.) The state and national GOP have chosen not to censure her. The thing to remember about her though is she is very powerful in Arizona and carries a lot of influence over republican candidates

    A few of her Monday comments..

    “ I love my brother in Christ Lin Wood. I hope he takes the enemies of truth to the woodshed. He is the best defamation lawyer in the nation. God gave him a gift. I want him to use this gift to take down the deep state. We are with you brother Lin!”

    “ Most of these politicians are either Soros bought or are Soros-sympathizers. It is like in Vietnam, most were either VC or helping VC. Bring back McCarthyism. We are well past the #RedScare days.”

  10. bud

    Whatever his shortcomings I’m extremely thankful we have Joe Biden as our president rather than Trump or for that matter any major Republican. The comments from Bryan and Doug are pretty much nothing but Fox News nonsense talking points. Let’s get real for a moment and recap the last 11 months under Biden. Early in his tenure he was able to sign legislation that provided a big boost to American families. Child poverty declined sharply since then, 40% by some accounts. Unemployment has dropped to pre pandemic levels. Wages are growing especially among the working class. People are so flush with money the supply chain can’t keep up with the phenomenal demand for goods. These supply chain issues have caused an increase in inflation. This was inevitable after COVID lockdowns in 2020. But is this really a big problem? I just paid $2.66/gallon for gas. Pretty much the same as it was in the spring of 2018. Biden was also able to get a sizable bipartisan infrastructure bill passed. As for COVID, Biden has pushed vaccination mandates that are working. 96+% of our military is now vaccinated. Infection rates remain high but the number of people dying is less than half what it was last yea at this time, mostly among the unvaccinated. Republican governors are the true villains in the stubbornly high COVID numbers. Crime is up but was also up in 2020. But violent crime is still well below the 1991 record during the Reagan/Bush era. And finally, Biden ended our involvement in Afghanistan. Doug can’t even give him any credit for that even though that is exactly what he proposed for the last decade+.

    Sure there are major problems remaining from the Trump calamity. But Biden is a decent, honorable man trying to move the country forward. I suspect we’ll see some new version of Build Back Better. But even if it doesn’t ever pass our country is in far better shape than it was in January. Any fair minded observer would have to agree.

    1. Doug Ross

      It would be difficult for me to use Fox talking points when I have never watched it in my life and don’t read any conservative websites. I turned my opinion of Joe Biden long ago based on simple observation. He’s a do nothing, day nothing, relic. Incapable of forming coherent thoughts on his own any more, relegated to being a figurehead.

      1. bud

        This is a well worn Fox talking point. It’s also nonsense. I’ve watched Biden speeches many times over the past year. He does fight his stuttering issue and like anyone sometimes flubs his talking points; confusing thousand for million for example. But on his worst day he’s far more coherent than Trump or W.

        1. Barry

          As I have stated once before, it’s amazing that the folks that the never watch Fox or listen to right wing radio or so adept at repeating Fox and right wing radio talking points virtually word for word.

          Of course the same thing happens on the Left too- folks that will say “I’ve don’t ever watch MSNBC” then repeat what Rachel Maddow says about a specific topic.

          If you happen to read Facebook from time to time, you’ll learn that no one watches Fox or cable news. Apparently, everyone avoids it…… so they say.

          1. bud

            Full disclosure. I watch lots of MSNBC. Great channel. I occasionally watch Fox. On rare occasions they actually make valid points on their daytime shows. Primetime Fox is pure crap. I just don’t get all this anti TV news comments on this blog. It’s like a badge of honor to not watch tv news. Not sure I get that. The NY Times certainly prints plenty of crap. But I don’t make a blanket condemnation of the print media.

    2. Bryan Caskey

      The comments from Bryan and Doug are pretty much nothing but Fox News nonsense talking points.”

      What comments of mine, specifically?

      1. bud

        Biden won election by claiming he could make Washington work and had enough relationships across the aisle to revive bipartisanship. Instead, Biden immediately shifted to a hard-progressive agenda.

        His “hard-progressive” agenda is actually supported by a majority of Americans. Which by definition makes it moderate.

        1. Barry

          The thing I have appreciated about Joe Biden is his cabinet agencies just quietly go about their business.

          Outside of the mess that is the border, the other agency heads go about their business for the most part.

          and we don’t have an Education Secretary like Betsy Devos who was violating department policy and making up her own rules- and making it impossible for officials like military members, police officers, firefighters, etc health care workers who did their part with regards to applying for education loan assistance being denied because an agency head decided to make it hard on them.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            “The thing I have appreciated about Joe Biden is his cabinet agencies just quietly go about their business.”

            Yep. Definitely one of the many things I love about Joe…

        2. Doug Ross

          Is the first half of that statement “Biden won election by claiming he could make Washington work and had enough relationships across the aisle to revive bipartisanship.” untrue?

          Saying that his “agenda” (which doesn’t include many of the things he said he would do) is supported by a majority of Americans is pure fantasy. His approval rating (an actual number) is dropping by the week to Trump levels. If the majority of Americans supported his agenda, that couldn’t happen.

          Your liberal bubble keeps you as brainwashed as the Fox fools.

          1. Barry

            In fairness, Biden was able to get a massive infrastructure bill through Congress.

            Trump and his administration, on several occasions, had big infrastructure promotions but Trump got in his own way and mistakenly sabotaged the effort and never did get it passed.

            A reminder

            JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — As a presidential candidate in 2016, Donald Trump promised a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that would use tax incentives to spur private investment in public works projects.

            He has so far failed to persuade Congress to pass anything like that.

            In another election year, Trump has outlined a new $1 trillion plan for spending on roads, rails, water systems and other infrastructure. This time, the president is proposing to rely fully on federal spending. That fundamental change from his first plan drew praise from some state transportation officials and industry groups, even though Trump doesn’t spell out how to pay for it all.

            Since outlining his budget proposal last week, Trump has done little to promote his new infrastructure plan.”


            (Trump failed to promote it- and his administration did really nothing to promote it in Congress. Some leaders on both sides in Congress stated, off the record, that Trump wanted the sound bite but wasn’t willing to do any work to get it done).

  11. Bart

    Admittedly, copied this but checked before posting to be sure it was accurate. Just something to think about. Was not from a far right or conservative site. If you don’t believe the information from the Census Bureau, check it out yourself, I am not going to do your work for you.

    To be very clear, I never liked Trump and when he was on television, changed the channel. He was irritating as hell, and he would drone on and on and on. And to be fair, cannot stand to even look at Biden. I know Trump was a prolific liar and sent out “mean Tweets”. However, compared to the lies Biden told and still does, Trump is an amateur, batting in a Pee Wee league compared to the Major Leagues Biden bats in. I will leave it at that with no further comment.

    “Released two weeks ago, the Census Bureau’s report on “Income and Poverty in the United States” for 2019 clearly shows that, pre-pandemic, President Trump’s economic success blew past that of any other presidency.

    First, the Census Bureau reported that real median household income grew to $68,703 in 2019, an impressive 6.8% increase over 2018. It was the largest one-year increase in median income on record going back to 1967. It was also 45 percent more growth in a single year ($4,379) than Obama/Biden produced in their entire 8 years in office ($3,021).

    As was the case throughout Trump’s first three years, the economic benefits were widespread. While the overall growth rate was 6.8%, real median income grew by an even greater 7.9% for Black Americans, 7.1% for Hispanic Americans, and 10.6% for Asian Americans. All record highs as were the new income levels for each of these groups.

    As for talking points about how the Trump tax cuts benefitted only the rich, well, they were false. As incomes grew in 2019, the poverty rate plummeted 1.3 percentage points to a 60 year low of 10.5%. This was the largest reduction in poverty in over 50 years. It lifted over 4.1 million people out of poverty, the largest yearly decrease since 1966. Just for comparison purposes, over the Obama/Biden era, the number of people living in poverty increased by 787,000.

    Minority groups again experienced the largest improvements. While the overall poverty rate declined 1.3 percentage points, Black poverty fell by 2.0 percentage points, Hispanic poverty fell by 1.8, and Asian poverty fell by 2.8. According to the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) “the poverty rate fell to an all-time record low for every race and ethnic group in 2019.”

    Child poverty decreased to 14.4 percent, the lowest child poverty rate observed since 1973 and down from 18 percent at the end of the Obama/Biden era. The best family welfare program truly is a job.”

    I guess the next best news is there are no more “Mean Tweets” from “bad man orange”.

    Have at it Barry!!!

    1. Barry

      Yes, you copied it from Fox Business, written by Andy Puzder. If that name sounds familiar, he’s the former CEO of Hardees and Trump appointed him to be Secretary of Labor but he couldn’t win enough votes for confirmation.

      He was opposed by Democrats for his reported mistreatment of employees and a number of Republicans opposed him for hiring undocumented labor in his home and failing to pay their taxes. During his tenure as CEO of the parent company of Hardees, the company settled numerous lawsuits related to failing to pay overtime to employees.

      Puzder worked on the Trump campaign and after losing out on his Dept of Labor nomination, wrote a book praising Trump. Even now, he’s often seen on Fox and CNBC praising Trump

      So no, there is no surprise that you posted an article by Puzder praising Trump. He does that 24 hours a day, selecting bits of data that help his position and ignoring everything that doesn’t.

      Nah, you just posted the latest of “Trump’s greatest hits” that anyone can find on any combination of Fox, OANN, and Newsmax.

      Speaking of child poverty:

      America is substantially reducing poverty among children
      The Biden administration’s biggest success has not received enough attention

      1. Bart

        “Yes, you copied it from Fox Business, written by Andy Puzder.”

        Nah, Barry, I did not copy if from Fox Business because I do not watch nor do I read Fox Business, and this is the first time I have ever heard of Andy Puzder. I don’t fill my time engaging in trivial political pursuit. Another thing, I don’t lie. I copied and pasted from another source who apparently condensed the article and reposted without acknowledging the opinion writer, Andy Puzder. Nothing unusual about that. What I did do was confirm the information was accurate and from the source credited, the Census Bureau. That is after all the most important aspect of the post, it is factual and verifiable.

        Yes, I did do my research after you mentioned his name. Apparently, he is published on several conservative sites, the WSJ, and has his own blog among other things. The fact that he is a Trump supporter does not count with me, I could care less.

        “Nah, you just posted the latest of “Trump’s greatest hits” that anyone can find on any combination of Fox, OANN, and Newsmax.”

        Never make the mistake of “thinking” you know my position on Donald Trump because you don’t. I made my position clear about Trump and Biden in the post and if you cannot believe it, that is your problem, not mine. If you had been a regular on the blog in 2015 and 2016, you would know what I think about Trump but being a recent frequent flyer poster, you don’t.

        Guess you felt great thinking “you got me”, reinforcing your “smartest guy in the room” persona.

        1. Barry

          The article you posted is a cut and paste of Trumper Andy Puzder’s article on Fox Business.

          Folks can read the article themselves and compare it word for word with your post above.

          The only difference is the very start where you type your own comments in and the very end.

          “Never make the mistake of “thinking” you know my position on Donald Trump because you don’t.”

          -Sorry Bart but I get to think whatever I want to think.

    2. bud

      “Released two weeks ago, the Census Bureau’s report on “Income and Poverty in the United States” for 2019 clearly shows that, pre-pandemic, President Trump’s economic success blew past that of any other presidency.

      This is one of Fox’s favorite talking points. Simply ignore Trump’s last year as president. But it’s not even true. More jobs have been created during Biden’s first 10 months than Trump’s. From the BLS website:

      jobs created
      Feb-Nov 2017 – 1,799,000
      Feb-Nov 2021 – 5,875,000

  12. barry

    Update on my son who had been trying hard to land a part time job.

    He recently applied at a local fast food establishment that had been public in our area about their lack of staff members.

    He applied and immediately got an interview. He went for the interview and was told he was a good applicant. They asked him when he could start and he said he could start at anytime and they asked if he could work at nights until they closed and he told them he could. He hasn’t heard a word and after calling once and emailing them once, no one will call him back or respond to him.

    This is after he applied to a retail store that supposedly had deep staff concerns. In fact, they were on a local tv broadcast talking about how hard it was to find staff members. He was not called for an interview and was told they were not hiring anyone at the current time.

    The frustrating thing was that I was recently in that very store buying a few things trying to talk to an associate and ask a question. The young man could not look me in the eye and talk to me. He was staring at the floor mumbling his answer. I walked out thinking, “Sure, I am biased buy my son would never mumble and stare at the floor while talking to someone. He has very good communication skills. How in the world did that kid ever get a job dealing with customers?”

    He also applied to a local grocery store. I had went into the store asking if they were hiring high school aged students. I didn’t mention my name or my son’s name as I didn’t want it to seem like dad was in there trying to score a job for his son.

    I was told they were hiring and they had several openings that high school students could fill. I asked if a resume was necessary and they advised it would be fine but most of the high schoolers didn’t submit resumes to them. (My son has a resume I created for him) I went home and had my son submit his resume and fill out the online application.

    I had him call the store several times following up on his application. Each time they said they’d review it and let us know one way or the other. I wanted them to know he was eager. (We were told my a former worker there that this was a good thing to do).

    We have never heard anything. That was over a month ago.

    as I have said previously-….. some of the stories about lack of staff and candidates for jobs is probably true- but I don’t think it’s nearly what has been portrayed.

    1. Doug Ross

      The lack of staff is absolutely true. I’ve been to numerous restaurants in the past few months that either had reduced hours or warned that wait times might be longer than usual.

      If he’s eager to find a job, I would assume he could go to more than a couple places in a month. It’s not difficult to go along Two Notch Road and hit any number of restaurants in a few hours.

      1. Barry

        Well, that’s what I have heard regarding staff. But I don’t think it’s that clear cut.

        Many of the restaurants won’t talk to applicants in person. They will tell you in no uncertain terms you must apply on their website. If you persist or want to talk to a manager, they will emphasize the website is the only option.

        Then once at the website, it’s impossible to apply for many of the jobs outside of manager or assistant manager.

        He’s on application 5 now with no response. One restaurant he applied at still has the “help wanted, apply online” sign out front. Well, he did that and followed it up with a phone call. No response. That was weeks ago.

        I’ve told him he might have better luck misspelling everything on the application except his name and email address. Maybe his attention to detail, with me reviewing it before he submits it to make sure it’s completely filled out, is not the best approach after all.

        Something, and I have no idea what, doesn’t quite add up.

  13. Bart

    First of all, didn’t get this from Fox. Second, comparing Trump to Hoover is a false equivalent.

    The Great Depression caused a loss of 15 million jobs. This was not a lockdown caused by an epidemic and the situation was totally different. When Hoover took office, the economy was booming but due to overextending debt and a stock market hitting highs based on speculation, the impact was devastating. Another fact to consider before making a comment like the one you made, you have to take into consideration the population of this country when the Depression hit. Approximately 123 million compared to the population when COVID hit, it was approximately 330 million.

    When the Great Depression hit, there were approximately 13 million in the work force. When Covid hit, approximately 161 million in the workforce.

    Great Depression percentage of unemployed = 10.5%
    COVID percentage of unemployed = 9.5%

    The COVID-19 lockdown caused approximately 9.6 million to lose their jobs and it was because of the lockdowns and businesses closing by mandate from local, state, and federal authorities. Before the pandemic hit, unemployment was at historical lows across the board to include all races, genders, etc. If anything, before COVID, minority employment levels were at all-time highs.

    As for the Feb-Nov 2021 jobs created, just over half the jobs lost have been filled after lockdowns were lifted in some states, people could get out, go to work, and life resumed as conditions allowed. The bad news is that approximately 4.4 million people dropped out of the job market in September, 2021. In addition to the exodus from the job market, there are still approximately 10.4 million jobs still open.

    The Feb-Nov 2017 statistic is another false flag comparison. There was no pandemic or depression to recover from in 2017. The job growth remained steady from 2012 through early 2019 when after March, 2019, this country was basically shutdown and massive job loss hit the employment pool. So, your claim that Trump actually lost about 3 million jobs is another example of cherry-picking from the wrong tree.

    When you are cherry-picking, be sure you are picking from an actual cherry tree and not a Chinaberry tree.

    1. Ken

      “When Hoover took office, the economy was booming ….”

      Historical note: This was definitely not true for much of rural America at the time. There the Depression effectively began back in the ’20s. See: David Kennedy’s masterful history of the period, Freedom From Fear.

    2. Barry

      “So, your claim that Trump actually lost about 3 million jobs is another example of cherry-picking from the wrong tree.”

      I think it’s fair to hold Trump and Conservatives accountable in the same manner regarding job losses as Conservatives do during Democratic administrations. Conservatives held Obama accountable for the massive job losses he inherited at the start of his administration when the economy was imploding from the prior administration.

      You don’t get to pick and choose which job losses to hang on a President.

      The job losses happened on Trump’s watch.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        “I think it’s fair to hold Trump and Conservatives accountable in the same manner regarding job losses as Conservatives do during Democratic administrations.”

        No, it isn’t. It’s not fair for anyone to do that. Presidents don’t produce the economies of the times when they hold office. For instance with Trump, you can’t give him credit for the continuation of growth at the start of his term, or the COVID-caused collapse at the end.

        Oh, sure, you can give him SOME blame for refusing to address COVID like a rational human being. For that matter, you can blame his influence for the fact that we haven’t recovered from COVID yet. If his followers weren’t trying to kill themselves and take us with them, we might have whipped this thing before Omicron came along.

        But you can’t blame him or them entirely. Too many factors are involved. A president can influence the economy; but he doesn’t own it, for good or for ill.

        I think everyone knows that, but people speak as though things were simpler — because of the whole either-or, binary approach to politics that is destroying the country…

        1. bud

          Presidents don’t have absolute control over the economy. However, it is clear that Democratic policies work better at producing jobs and creating wealth for most Americans. The Biden stimulus package absolutely rescued millions of Americans from a very dire situation. And that passed without the help of Republicans. Politics isn’t always a fair game but in terms of advancing the welfare of the country the binary comparison that Brad decries is fair game. Democrats are better for America than the GOP, the party for billionaires and not anyone else.

          1. Barry

            Checked my rate of return on my 401k holdings today for the year.

            A solid 18.32% for the year. I’m pleased.

            I didn’t check my the return on my regular investments yet or any of my IRAS. They were tracking slightly above my 401k % when i looked a few weeks ago.

            I checked in with my favorite locally owned restaurant this afternoon. The owner came out and talked to me and my wife for a few minutes. He said the 4th quarter of this year and been his best quarter of business since 2014.

            I did ask him about supply chain issues. I realize a restaurant might not have the same issues as retail stores but he said he experienced no shortages or delays. He has a sign up in his front window saying some menu items might not be available but he did that more as a precaution because of what he was hearing from some news outlets. (I told him to be careful to not listen to those outlets anymore – he laughed)

              1. Barry

                My personal rate of return this year was only 2.3% behind 2019

                2019 wasn’t predicted to be a stock collapse of epic proportions like Trump cult members and Biden haters predicted for 2021. (They were- big surprise- wrong of course)

                1. Doug Ross

                  So 2019 was better. How was 2020? It’s easy to have great returns when the prior year was hit with global pandemic.

                  1. Barry

                    I’d have to break it out.

                    2020 was a good year. In fact, after election day, the year was still good.

                    2021 was also a good year (despite predictions from those firm that Biden would tank the market).

                    I remember when Reagan was going to bomb Russia and Clinton was going to ruin the economy.

            1. Doug Ross

              Since Barry lives by anecdotes to support his world view, how about this one. I’m at a Myrtle Beach BBQ chain restaurant at 7 pm. They have no turkey or brisket and have a sign on the counter saying they will be closed Tuesday due to labor shortage. But I’m sure that’s just a complete coincidence.

              If you leave your bunker you might see there is an actual labor shortage in restaurants and plenty of supply chain issues.

              1. Doug Ross

                “my son can’t find a job” = there is no labor shortage
                “My 401k had a good return” = Joe Biden is a miracle worker
                “The one restaurant I went to had the item I ordered” = no supply issues in America

              2. Doug Ross

                Went to Top Golf in Myrtle Beach today. Half the bays empty, one hour wait due to limited staff.

                In the last six months, I’ve seen firsthand issues with staffing in Seward, AK, Fargo ND, Pittsburgh, and just last week Cherokee, NC where half of the restaurants in the casino food court were closed and half of the tables were empty in the sit down restaurants with two hour waits.

                If you want to work, there are jobs available.

                1. Doug Ross

                  Bartender at Myrtle Beach resort: staffing has been terrible since summer. Normally have 4 bartenders and 2 servers. He had one stretch in the fall where he was the only bartender for ten days straight. One guy who was hired had to be called to wake him up for orientation then hung up on the manager the next day and quit.

                  But, no, there’s no staff issues anywhere.

                  1. Barry

                    Your anecdotes to support your world view mean very little.

                    In fact, I was at TopGolf in Charlotte Thursday and it was packed. Didn’t have to wait for a bay but other people were waiting. Staff member waiting on us said it had been super busy.

                    If you didn’t hate Biden so much, a clearer view would be accessible.

                    My wife was at Tanger a few weeks ago In Myrtle with 3 friends because they down to stay the night. It was also packed. She said Barefoot was also quite crowded.

                    Sorry but depressive outlooks make no sense.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        No, it isn’t, from what I’ve heard.

        And of course, that was the best Starbucks location in town, in terms of location and ambience.

        I’ve been meaning to look into what happened and write about it. But like everything else, I haven’t been able to get to it…


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