2016: The Year Civil Discourse Died

Civil Discourse had been on life support in the United States since approximately 2008, when a charismatic black politician invigorated both progressive America and, inadvertently, racist, reactionary America. Its precarious position was confirmed in 2010, when the newly selected Senate Majority Leader proclaimed that his legislative goal was to make the sitting President a one-term President. (He failed.) Another Senator’s temper tantrum led to a government shut-down in 2013. Finally, in 2016, that same Senate Majority Leader refused to consider the President’s nominee for a vacant Supreme Court seat for ten months on the grounds that there was a Presidential election coming, and maybe the eventual winner would want someone else on the Court instead.

During the 2016 Presidential election, evidence emerged that Russia, inheritor of the mantle of the USA’s cold war adversary, was meddling in our election campaigns. The buffoonish TV show host running for President was oddly sympathetic towards Russia and its despotic leader. One of his campaign managers (he went through campaign managers like Spinal Tap went through drummers!) had literally worked as a political consultant in the Ukraine, aligned with pro-Moscow politicians. Weirdest of all, social media was flooded with blatantly false news reports and memes, mostly villainizing the TV host’s opponent. Well, no, weirdest of all was when, in a televised debate, the former TV show host yelled at his opponent, “No puppet! No puppet! You’re the puppet!” Amazingly, this buffoon won the Presidential election despite an endless flood of gaffes and blatant lies on top of lowering the level of campaign discourse to the lowest levels ever imagined, let alone seen.

It wasn’t until 2018, though, that the US Justice Department announced that a special prosecutor had indicted 13 Russians and three Russian companies for fraudulently meddling in the US elections of 2016. The new Buffoon-in-Chief had finally to concede that maybe Russia, indeed, had meddled in the 2016 campaign, not China or “some 400-pound man on his bed in his mother’s house.”

Perhaps worse than that fact being verified, though, was the well-detailed proof that many of the people with whom we verbally jousted in 2016, on both sides of any debate, were professional trolls, paid provocateurs set loose by Moscow to provoke America to self-destruct from internal strife. Jokes once made about some Twitter user being a Russian troll suddenly undeniably plausible. Sure, progressive Americans and many conservatives vexed by their party’s nominee had firmly believed the reports from all sixteen of America’s government intelligence agencies about the meddling, but some politicians who had the buffoon’s ear held out the last shred of plausible deniability about the impact or scope of the meddling.

Twitter writers who before had been prone to “block and report” other Twitter users whose writings were deemed troll-like became more adamant that any poorly worded or poorly reasoned arguments were the product of Russian trolls. Whether they were paid Russians or earnest American racists no longer mattered; they were smeared as possible paid Russians and dismissed.

Here’s the thing: the buffoon got 63,000,000 votes from Americans in 2016’s general election. There was no voter fraud; that had been proven, because racist reactionaries were always trying to steal the votes of minorities by making it harder to vote in the guise of protecting against voter fraud. There was no fraud. 63,000,000 of our fellow countrymen were either racist enough to agree with the buffoon, misogynistic enough to vote for whomever opposed the buffoon’s opponent, or somehow tolerant enough of both the racism and misogyny to choose him over her.

We all know people like that. We all know someone with a red MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN hat. We all had that uncle or cousin we avoided at family gatherings after the TV host announced his candidacy, because that candidacy emboldened the racists to say things that for the prior fifty years no decent person had said in America publicly. The trolls didn’t create attitudes; they merely emboldened and amplified them.

Those people have not suddenly renounced their views just because they were emboldened by a campaign by America’s enemy to polarize us and tear us apart. They still believe the Democratic candidate is an unrepentant crook. They still believe a DC pizza parlor with no basement has a basement where children are sex trafficking victims. They still believe, regardless of how much they supported and repeated has been proven to be the work of provocateurs. And America will remain divided until we can find a way to establish civil discourse and establish a common set of values again.

This means, we have to accept that the racist grandma from Helena, Laramie, or Mobile might actually be American, not some professional troll who badly needs English lessons to be better at her or his job. Someone will have to engage these racists and reactionaries, because many of them are younger than you and me; we can’t just wait for them to die off and trust their children to learn the same lessons we learned, that racism and misogyny, among other social sins, are wrong. It wasn’t an AARP march in Charlottesville that carried Tiki torches; it was the far-right wing of the Young Republicans, and they’re still there.



I once had a business dinner in a luxurious arcade game palace in Seattle whose name escapes me. The games took magnetic cards, not coins or tokens, and all of us were given cards with something $10 or $20 worth of credit on them to enjoy the games. I wandered through the floors of the place, looking for familiar games, but didn’t find any. I gave my card back to the assistant who had given them to us. She asked if I didn’t like arcade games. I assured her that I did, but I got performance anxiety trying new games in public. She laughed at the use of the phrase, “performance anxiety.”

Here’s the thing: I learn by making mistakes, or maybe I should say I learn by letting myself make mistakes. I can learn by memorization if I have to, but I learn better by understanding a process or object by testing its limits and its responses to bad inputs or incorrect uses. I do this playing games on computers, and I do this to a lesser extent at work if I know the mistakes I might make are correctable or are in a lab setting where mistakes don’t matter. If “everyone knows you don’t do it that way,” I’ll do it that way just to understand why not and how it differs from the correct way, or how close it might be to the correct way.

Sometimes it’s not “Everyone knows not to do it that way,”  as, “Everyone does it this way.” In those cases, I’ll play around to find alternate ways that might work under specific circumstances or might work better if I’m good enough to accomplish something. Case in point: Dell/EMC/Isilon says to initialize H400 nodes in an Isilon generation 6 cluster one at a time so that there’s no chance nodes will be numbered “incorrectly,” in the view of obsessives who want nodes to be numbered right to left, bottom to top. Isilon nodes are supposed to be mix-and-match. H400 nodes might only fit in one kind of chassis, but you can mix H400 nodes with NL410 nodes in a cluster, and you can add more nodes to a shelf or more shelves to a cluster as needed. The only reason I can see so far for being compulsive in how nodes are added is to reduce the chance that a customer engineer will assume node 6 is the second from the right in the second shelf from the bottom and be wrong because we weren’t compulsive about using what they consider the “normal” numbering pattern. The thing is, when I was initializing the first 24 nodes of our new Isilon, I noticed a cluster knew about a new node and gave it a number long before the initialization was complete. If I had started initializing “the next node”, its number wouldn’t be the one that was still initializing. I could save an hour-and-a-half per node if I simply staggered my initialization starts that way if I’m right. In this case, we need the new cluster online a month ago, so I can’t risk having to restart the whole initialization process or risk making our expensive storage array harder to manage. But I’m pretty sure the way everyone does it is far, far too conservative.

I play a lot of computerized D&D games, like Baldur’s Gate and Ice Wind Dale. I like to play as a thief, but the pre-genned characters who I let join my group (BG) or the other characters I create to join my protagonist (IWD) always vary from game to game. Playing the same party all the time using the same strategy would be boring. (Yes, I often restore from a saved game if something goes wrong. In that sense, I’ll play the same party repeatedly until I get past some obstacle — or decide my party isn’t configured well enough.) How does a monk fit into a party? Are sorcerers better or worse than plain mages? Are the various specialties kits of different classes worth trying? Heck, in my curent IWD game, I’m using a bard, for crying out loud! It turns out they have great songs in IWD and might be useful after all. Now I’m figuring out when to let him play and when to have him swing a two-handed axe we found. Same for my cleric: repel undead or use a great mace?

This is why “I don’t play well with others,” at least in multi-player games. Can you imagine someone like me playing with someone like Sheldon Cooper? He knows the best way to do things, and why am I experimenting with other ways? If I get involved with someone who’s all gung-ho and heavily optimized, well, they might end up fragging me. Similarly, others might resent how many times I roll the dice while creating a character to get a strong enough initial set of points to work with. “Hey, that’s not fair!” Well, I already make the game hard enough with my various configurations. I play for my own entertainment, not to interact with others, and sometimes that means taking the long way to a goal, just to see what the long way is like.

I was thinking about this as I drove home from breakfast in my Mini Cooper, occasionally feeling the car get a little loose on the new fallen snow. Minis, at least the FWD models, aren’t great winter cars, at least not without putting on dedicated snow tires, and that’s a luxury I haven’t bought yet.  It was early on a Sunday morning, I knew the roads I was on, and traffic was very light. This wasn’t like that time on the Pennsylvania Turnpike when my Honda Fit got away from me at highway speeds and ended up against the median barrier with its nose bent out of joint; I knew if the Mini got loose, I was going slow enough to recover easily and safely. So, on a quiet Sunday morning, I was cautiously exploring the limits of how my car handles in the snow. Sure, I could have taken our Subaru instead, but I’ll have to drive my Mini in snow other times, so I might as well gather some data points at the same time.

In some ways, I’m a perfectionist. In other ways, maybe I sometimes have a weird notion of perfection. I’ll explore or experiment a little bit to validate that the way everyone does it really is best, or else find a technique that I can use that others won’t use. As I often say at work, I often don’t mind making a mistake, if I learn from it; it’s making the same mistake twice that makes me mad at myself.

As I said, that’s how I learn.

It’s Not Too Loud; I’m Too Old

We saw Thor: Ragnorak tonight. Before the movie started, there were previews for, among others, Pacific Rim, Star Wars VIII, Black Panther, Justice League, Jumanji, and probably one or two similar action movies. We saw it on an “Ultra Screen,” with “Dolby Atmos,” sound. I nearly went into an autistic state from over-stimulation. And that’s without getting distracted by Guns’n’Roses’s “Welcome to the Jungle,” for the Jumanji preview or Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” at least twice during Thor.

Ironically, while surfing Netflix’s streaming service this afternoon, I found Michael Clayton. It’s not a movie without special effects; within the first ten minutes, a car blows up. But that’s it. It’s a character-driven movie. You don’t have to know Norse mythology or be able to recognize a half-dozen characters from other Marvel franchises. It was, shudder, an adult movie. Not the type you can’t admit to your mother that you saw, but one that kids wouldn’t appreciate.

There are things in Thor to make kids laugh; I heard laughter from behind us several times during the movie. It was bright and shiny; the men were all heroic and the women, even the heroic ones, were all glamorous.

Mostly, though, I found myself thinking about eventually rewatching the second hour of Michael Clayton. Not as soon as we got home; I need to get ready for this week, including getting some sleep. But some evening this week, I’ll pull out an iPad and open the Netflix app to finish re-watching that movie, a relative quiet movie for adults.

It’s a Small World After All, Maybe

Donald Trump is all we need. Just ask him!

Multiple reports, including one from NPR, quote him as saying, “Let me tell you, the one that matters is me. I’m the only one that matters, because when it comes to it, that’s what the policy is going to be. You’ve seen that, you’ve seen it strongly.” This was in response about whether enough of his appointees were working in the State Department. Assistant Secretary of State? Who needs one? “So, we don’t need all the people that they want. You know, don’t forget, I’m a businessperson. I tell my people, ‘Where you don’t need to fill slots, don’t fill them.'”

I admit, I’m not completely sure which State Department posts are political appointees and which are career positions, but from what I read about different Departments and Agencies, many of those career employees need some direction about how to do their jobs. Trump may think his past campaign slogans and his 140-character bursts of knowledge are all the guidance they need, but apparently they disagree.

Do we need a few specialists focused on East Asia, places like the Korean peninsula or Japan? Are our actions in Africa guided by deliberate policies or by accidents? When Trump meets new people, including heads of state he hasn’t met with before, is anyone offering advice about what to do or not do, on the off chance that Trump is receptive to advice?

If Trump thinks he knows everything about everything, or at least about everything that matters, he must think the world is a very small place. That may be why his transition team apparently didn’t accept offers of transitional guidance and help from the outgoing staffs and holding-over staffs at so many Departments that he’s subsequently leaving half-staffed compared to past administrations. A man who can’t imagine that there are things to learn won’t get any better at his job than he is now. And if he hasn’t learned after nine months on the job that there are things for him to learn, well, what we see is what we’ll be stuck with until, well, maybe January 20, 2021, maybe some time after the 2018 mid-term elections.

And to think, besides doing all the work of the State Department and several other departments, he still has time to tweet! It really must be a smaller world than I realize.

Or, we’re doomed.

38 Responses

The Washington Post weekend Magazine section has a feature this week:

Fix this democracy — now

38 ideas for repairing our badly broken civic life

There are 38 contributors, from across the spectrums. Some of the ideas I agree with, some I don’t. But I reacted strongly enough to many of them that I decided to write 38 responses.

Require Everyone to Vote

This is one of several entries around the theme of changing how people vote to make voting more meaningful more most people. I generally agree with it.

A New High School Course: Identity 101

Oh, wow. I understand the premise, but it’s a Catch-22: those who agree with the proposal wouldn’t change with the course, and those who oppose it wouldn’t let their kids be changed by it.

One Month Without Social Media

The idea is to get people to interact with others more. On behalf of other introverts, no, thanks. You’re addressing a symptom, and not one I give much weight to.

Befriend a Libertarian

Hell, no. I hate Libertarians. They aren’t some middle ground we can all agree upon; they’re the fringe who are part of the current problem, the current administration’s plan to burn government to the ground through neglect or sabotage. This was one of the more blatantly self-serving proposals.

Tackle Tough Subjects at Dinner

In theory, nice. In practice? How are some parents going to react to tough topics from their children, such as, “I reject your religion,” or, “I’m not straight,” for example? The idea behind this is better summarized by another proposal still to come.

Outlaw Private Education

This proposal suggests that if there were no private education, people would put the gifts they give to private education into public education. That’s beyond naive. In theory, yes, all kids starting school should have access to comparable educations. In practice, some private schools are better at teaching fundamentals, and some are worse. Interesting goal; wrong approach, if you ask me.

Ignore the Cultural Elite

Ignoring the elite is how we got Donald Trump. Question the elite, sure, but ignore?

Mandate Military or Civilian Service

I like the idea of mandating some form of public service, but recent reports about fears within military ranks of white nationalism, including within the military, give me pause. Mandating service would reverse some of the self-selection that skews the military members toward white nationalism, but I’m not sure making more of them serve with their perceived inferiors will negate their learned white nationalism as often as idealists would hope. Maybe the split between civilian and military service would mirror today’s political polarization if we’re not careful somehow.

Allow Garage Unit Rentals

I don’t think the problem with American democracy today is largely caused by housing in some areas being unaffordable, letting the upper middle class become isolated from the working and lower classes. It might be a worthy idea, but it doesn’t help the core topic, in my reading.

Keep Dreaming

I’m sure my political opponents dream; they just dream of different things.

A Women-Led Evangelical Movement

On the one hand, I’d be happy with more female leadership within all religions.

On the other hand, having seen some of the social efforts led by churches, such as using religion to justify discrimination against sexual or racial minorities, I’d prefer more secular leadership than religious leadership of social movements. I hope liberal and progressive religions get more socially active outside their own faiths, but I won’t assume religions are part of the answer.

A Constitutional Amendment on Equality

I’d like to see Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions enforce laws resulting from such an Amendment. We aren’t even enforcing current laws on equality. Attitudes have to come before legislation and enforcement. Prohibition — and, fifty years later, drunk driving — proved that.

Establish National Unity Week

As long as there are political parties and elections to be won, unity will always be threatened by the political benefits (for some) of fomenting division.

Switch to Instant-Runoff Voting

This, I like! This weakens the two-party system and creates room for moderates and third-party candidates. Would Trump have won if every state had used Instant-Runoff Voting? People would have voted for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson and known that they could still indicate a preference for Hillary over Trump if it came down to that.

It gets trickier for lower level elections. Would people learn enough about local candidates for office to make intelligent decisions about offices? Still, I like this for the same reason I like compulsory voting: it gets people involved and allows for more nuanced voting.

Remind the Government: It is Beholden to Us

Civil servants know to whom they’re beholden. It’s the elected leaders and political appointments, in my experience, that corrupt that.

Rein in the Congressional Budget Office

Someone doesn’t like the CBO. I don’t think the CBO is the cause of the breakdown of American civic involvement.

Teach Critical Thinking

I want to like this idea. I like the idea of critical thinking.

My concern is, everyone at Breitbart News as well as every conspiracy theorist thinks they’re using critical thinking. “Challenge the status quo! Question what they tell you? Do you really think jet fuel can melt skyscraper support beams?” Galileo was once right in the face of opposition from the Establishment, so every climate denier might be right, too! Critical thinking, man!

It may be that critical thinking currently is corrupted by anti-establishment biases. Critical thinking is always vulnerable to unrecognized biases.  I’m not sure how to address that.

Give Every Teen a Black Box

Can you teach intellectual curiosity? If you can, that probably promotes critical thinking and helps inoculate people against biases, but I’m not sure you can on a large scale.

Fund Art Centers

For some personality types, sure; for others, no. I’ll accept this as a minor part of the effort and accept that I won’t like some of the art.

Push for Civil Rights Education

Every moron who’s telling about white genocide knows what civil rights are now defined to be. I see some benefit from teaching today’s youth that the struggle is constant, However, education isn’t the issue when we don’t agree on the fundamental value and worth of all people.

Prevent Left-Wing Media Bias

People don’t trust the mainstream media because they’re being taught not to trust them. Who’s teaching them that? The fringe movements on both the right and the left; the right are just better funded and now have their own shameless large media arms.

Bah, humbug!

Let Government Co-Own New Technologies

I get very skittish around things that reek of socialism. I don’t trust unchecked capitalism, but neither do I endorse the government claiming the benefits of private entrepreneurship.

That said, I agree that government grants should somehow have a payback scheme written into them so that government-funded discoveries bring financial benefits to the government.

Redefine the Flag

This proposal seems to be about reframing arguments to use the buzzwords of the audience you’re trying to win over. I’m sure I missed something here, but I’m not sure what.

Stop Obsessing about White Privilege

This seems to stipulate that we’re not doing what we know and agree we have to do because we’re still arguing about causes and degrees of guilt. I’m not sure this stipulation is valid.

End the Blame Game

As I noted earlier, unity is vulnerable to the political advantages of divisiveness, and blame games fuel that divisiveness. In theory, great. In practice?

Celebrate Government

In theory, great. In practice, ugh. Take streets and roads. “Government built and maintains these roads! Thanks, government!” “Why did government build the roads instead of letting developers build them and HOAs maintain them?” “But then HOAs are just a form of govenrment.” “Which is why I don’t live in an HOA!” “And who pays for the road you live on, and the roads it connects to?” Ad nauseum.

Peer Review for Candidates

Donald Trump wasn’t reviewed and evaluated by his peers? Of course he was; we called it “Primary Season.” Some would argue that Democratic super-delegates peer-reviewed Bernie Sanders and voted for Hillary Clinton. Many Sanders supporters are still livid about that. This is where I prefer “instant runoff” voting instead.

A Marshall Plan for America

The Marshall Plan was for rebuilding a continent devastated by war. Trump’s rhetoric withstanding, we’re not that dysfunctional yet.

Create a System of Voting Credits

I like the proposals to shake up voting. I’m not sure how many people would use their credits wisely, either spending too many too early, or having too many left for an election for which they have no strong feelings. Implementation details will be nasty.

Keep Education Public

Or, as least in this effort, kill school voucher programs. I can get behind that; they seem to be a failed experiment.

Take a Stand, Local Officials

Local officials in the South took lots of stands in the Civil Rights era. I’m not sure that’s what George Takei meant.

Mandate Gun Insurance

While I like this idea, it addresses a symptom of America’s polarization, not the polarization itself.

End American Arrogance

Oh! My! God! The American right just had collective apoplexy. It’s another Catch-22.

A Grass-Roots Revolt Against Fake News

No one likes Fake News. Not Donald Trump, not the “liberal” mainstream media, not Fox News, not anyone!

See also, critical thinking.

Revive Human Decency

Again, this is a symptom of the polarization, not the cause, at least not at a level we can work with.

Bring Back the Cold War Economy

The Cold War economy was justified by a shared fear. It benefited the military-industrial complex — and its owners — more than the workers in the factories and fields. No, thank you.

Persuade Voters to Keep Clicking

See also, critical thinking and alleged media bias.

Cultivate National Gratefulness

They’re proud to be Americans, and they keep singing to say so. That doesn’t seem to have done enough so far.


Game Without End?

Donald J. Trump just gave his first address to the United Nations General Assembly today.

I’ve always had a few different theories I can’t decide among about why Donald J. Trump ran for President. The political support for him, I understand: it’s pure, cynical opportunism. He won’t tell any nominal supporter, “No,” so all the crackpots who couldn’t advance their extreme ideas otherwise lined up behind him to push him up while whispering in his ear.

What about Trump himself? What’s in it for him?

One theory is that he craves publicity and fame, no matter how degrading. Money is just a way to keep score; what he wants are recognition and ratings! It doesn’t matter if it’s degrading or humiliating; if it gets great ratings, he’s in.

Another theory is an evil temperament, the kind that would have rental agents note the applications of people of color for his apartments, is now leavened with a layer of dementia, the illness in which people lose context and understanding. Sure, he’ll say wacky, racist things, because that’s part of his core personality, but does he really understand what he’s saying and how it plays in the world? Does he understand that his words matter? If the people around him keep telling him what he wants to hear, because they can also tell him what they want him to hear — and believe — would we know?

One theory I keep trying to disprove is that he never wanted to win the Presidency and kept — keeps — trying to things to sabotage his own campaign and then Presidency, only to find that nothing repulses his supporters and beneficiaries the way he’d expect. It’s as if, when he said he could shoot someone in broad daylight and his support would grow, not drop, he was complaining, not boasting. Sure, running for President was going to be fun, and he’d get some petty revenge for that White House Correspondents’ Dinner when he was so mercilessly mocked, but he wouldn’t have to give up his businesses or live in that tacky place in DC instead of his own tacky home in New York City in a building with his own name on it! Release his tax returns? It’d never get that far. Prove his worth? They’d never look closely enough to see through that facade. His financial shell games? They’d never look in the right places. Govern? As if!

He keeps upping the ante, trying to get someone behind him to say, “Enough! Pence, or Hillary, next, please!” Promise to build a wall? Assure us that Mexico would pay for it? Insult every ally? Insult the politicians with whom he’d have to govern? Lie shamelessly constantly? Make disaster relief appearances all about him? Deny the intelligence community conclusions everyone else accepts? Blurt out top secret intelligence to hostile foreigners? Threaten to incinerate 25 million Koreans in front of the UN?

At this point, I’m surprised he didn’t pull out the maps of his electoral college victory or counties he won, but then again, the UN has no power to override our sovereignty and impeach his sorry ass. While he was doing that, the Koch Brothers were trying once more time to destroy our safety net, so he’s still useful to them for a while longer.

Given his lack of attention to actual policy, I think we can rule out he’s doing this based on his principles. But that still leaves three other theories about why. Additional fame I tend to discount as a theory; he’s poisoning his own brand so much, no sane, rational person would do that. But both dementia and an insincere campaign he lost control of remain plausible.

I hope he finds an end game, or the help he may desperately need, soon. We can’t afford more of his thrashing around.

For Paul Ryan (& Joel Osteen?)

He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

Mt 25:33-40

Paul Ryan may wish to remember, Jesus didn’t give any credit to the tax collectors who gave the poor tax breaks and investment credits so they could start their own businesses with capital (that they didn’t have) to develop a business and eventually feed themselves or clothe themselves. He was much more about immediate results.

Remember that time thousands of followers came to a rally but forgot to bring food and drink? He gathered up what food and drink He and his staff had and used it to feed all of those gathered, despite their appalling lack of planning and self-sufficiency.

He cured the sick, of course, without worrying about co-pays and pre-existing conditions. Maybe that was because He was a carpenter, not a doctor. If He had thousands of dollars of student loans, would He have…. No, that probably wouldn’t have made a difference, would it? He didn’t qualify his teachings with such considerations. He was pretty much, “If you can do it, do it to help others.”

He didn’t even go in for that, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats forever,” type of teaching. He gave people fish and wine. He healed them instead of opening a healing school to teach others how to heal as He did. He was very much about immediate results, not about establishing the conditions for long-term economic recovery in Galilee. Despite that short-sightedness, His teachings persisted, and eventually a movement followed; others learned to help and love based on his examples, not because he gave seminars at Jesus University on how to help and love.

Reminder: sometimes I say the obvious, in case it’s not obvious. For Paul Ryan, and possibly for Joel Osteen in flood-ravaged Houston, apparently it’s not obvious.