Beginning NOW: House committee holds final hearing on January 6 insurrection, and will recommend sanctions. Watch live here.

December 19, 2022 • 11:56 am

Reader Ken sent me some timely news.  Now I’m not sure i the House recommendations will influence the Department of Justice, which will be making its own decisions, but they can’t hurt.  What do you think they’ll do? Will they recommend indicting the Orange Man? I think so.  Here’s what Ken wrote:

The final hearing of the Jan. 6th house special committee starts at 1 pm Eastern today. The committee will be delivering the executive summary of its final report and making criminal and ethical referrals as to the key miscreants.

It will be live streamed on PBS; watch below, or watch at C-Span here.

Surely, even if you’re working, you’ll want to have this on in the background.

Man bites dog!: Congressman Jared Huffman declares he’s an atheist

November 16, 2022 • 12:00 pm

I’m sure there have been atheists in Congress before, but I can think of only one who was open about it: Pete Stark, a Democratic representative from Congress who served from 1973-2013—a long forty years. But he announced his atheism only in 2007, six years before he retired. Barney Frank (remember him?) a Massachusetts Congressman from 1981-2013, was also an atheist, but he admitted it only after he left office. (Frank was also gay, but was open about that when he was in office, which shows you where atheists stand!)

Frank was, like me, an atheistic Jew—something that Dave Silverman asserts is an oxymoron. Here’s what he said to the Religion News Service in 2014:

CS: You became the first openly gay member of Congress in 1987, but you didn’t reveal your nontheism until after you left office. Why?

BF: It was never relevant. I never professed any theology. And it’s complicated by my Jewishness. Obviously, being Jewish is both an ethnicity and a religion. I was concerned that if I were to explicitly disavow any religiosity, it could get distorted into an effort to distance myself from being Jewish—and I thought that was wrong, given that there is anti-Jewish prejudice.

For years I would go to temple, but I suddenly realized it doesn’t mean anything to me. So I decided, I’m not going to do this. I’m not going to pretend. During my service I never pretended to be a theist. It just never became relevant that I wasn’t, and I guess I was not as conscious of the discrimination nontheists felt. But I’ve always been opposed to any imposition of religion. I fought hard, for example, with other members of Congress to oppose any notion that a religious group getting federal funds could discriminate in hiring.

When I took the oath of office, I never swore and said, “So help me God.” But members of the House take the oath en masse, so nobody noticed. I’ve said that if I’d been appointed to the Senate, as I wanted my governor to do but he decided he had other plans, I would’ve had my husband hold the Constitution.

The subject just never came up. The only religious services I’ve attended for the last 20 years were funerals; I’ve attended more masses than a lot of my Catholic friends.

I think we all know that there are lots of “hidden” atheists in the government, but they won’t admit it (Trump is surely one).

Why put your nonbelief out of view? You know why. Americans demonize atheists, and I suspect that even many of the ‘nones’, who have no declared affiliation with a church, don’t like us, either. As an article in The Conversation noted:

This puts the country at odds with democracies the world over that have elected openly godless – or at least openly skeptical – leaders who went on to become revered national figures, such as Jawaharlal Nehru in IndiaSweden’s Olof PalmeJose Mujica in Uruguay and Israel’s Golda Meir. New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, the global leader who has arguably navigated the coronavirus crisis with the most credit, says she is agnostic.

But in the United States, self-identified nonbelievers are at a distinct disadvantage. A 2019 poll asking Americans who they were willing to vote for in a hypothetical presidential election found that 96% would vote for a candidate who is Black, 94% for a woman, 95% for a Hispanic candidate, 93% for a Jew, 76% for a gay or lesbian candidate and 66% for a Muslim – but atheists fall below all of these, down at 60%. That is a sizable chunk who would not vote for a candidate simply on the basis of their nonreligion.

. . . In fact, a 2014 survey found Americans would be more willing to vote for a presidential candidate who had never held office before, or who had extramarital affairs, than for an atheist.

We’re not trusted, and the article discusses why. One reason is the common misconception that if you don’t believe in God, you can’t be moral.

Here’s a plot from the Conversation article showing that only SOCIALISTS are less likely to be elected than atheists. (But what about Bernie?).

Now, though, Congressman Jared Huffman of California, a Democrat (of course only Democrats would admit such a thing) has also come out as an atheist. Again, he admits it now although he’s been sitting Congress since 2013, so nobody has actually runs initially for Congressional office stating that they’re nonbelievers.

Huffman announced his apostasy at the FFRF convention; click on the announcement below to read:

A precis:

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., made his views on the nonexistence of God extremely clear at the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s recently concluded annual convention in San Antonio.

In his taped remarks welcoming convention-goers, he stated, “I feel like I have sort of become the surrogate representative for countless folks across the United States that identify as nonreligious. As many of you know, I am the token humanist in Congress. A few others are coy about how they describe their religious views but I’ve come right out and said it: I’m a humanist and I don’t believe in God.” 

Well, he didn’t say the “a-word” but he is one. It’s weird how you can say you don’t believe in God and yet not call yourself explicitly an “atheist”. The article continues.

Huffman has been a stalwart defender of secularism in Congress, as a founding member and co-chair of the Congressional Freethought Caucus. Its mission statement is “to promote public policy formed on the basis of reason, science, and moral values; to protect the secular character of our government by adhering to the strict constitutional principle of the separation of church and state; to oppose discrimination against atheists, agnostics, humanists, seekers, religious and nonreligious persons, and to champion the value of freedom of thought and conscience worldwide; and to provide a forum for members of Congress to discuss their moral frameworks, ethical values, and personal religious journeys.”

The caucus currently has 17 members, more than quadruple its size since its establishment four years ago. 

CBN News (a Christian site) adds this:

This revelation isn’t entirely surprising considering past statements and advocacy. A 2017 article proclaimed Huffman wasn’t “sure” if there was a God. He said he used to ignore questions about his faith but has changed course in recent years.

“I don’t believe in religious tests, and I don’t believe my religion is all that important to the people I represent, and I think there’s too much religion in politics,” he told the Post at the time. “For those reasons, I felt good about not even answering it.”

Huffman became more vocal, though, crediting former President Donald Trump and others who were relying on Christianity in policy-making; thus, he, too, started speaking up. Rather than embrace the “atheist” label, though, he called himself — much like in the most recent video — a “humanist.”

“I’m not hostile to religion, and I’m not judging other people’s religious views,” Huffman said in his Post interview. “I suppose you could say I don’t believe in God. The only reason I hesitate is — unlike some humanists, I’m not completely closing the door to spiritual possibilities. We all know people who have had experiences they believe are divine … and I’m open to something like that happening.”

So here are the lessons. If you want to be a politician who actually gets elected:

  1. Never call yourself an “atheist”; you can say you’re a “humanist” or even a “nonbeliever”
  2. Only reveal your atheism after you’ve been in office for a while.
  3. Never say anything bad about religion: antitheism is a non-starter.

But there is something good in this, too, of course. A guy can openly declare he’s an atheist now and even get re-elected (like Pete Stark) after you’ve admitted it. But first you have to have been in government for a long time and kept your mouth shut.

Second, there’s a Congressional Freethought Caucus, and I didn’t know about that.  It’s small, though: the FFRF says this:

Other members of the Congressional Freethought Caucus include Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., and Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md. FFRF hopes that additional representatives will join their lead.]

Not a lot of people, but Democrats all!

Freddie DeBoer muses on the election

November 14, 2022 • 12:00 pm

I have little time to write here today, as my fingers are directed to another project, but I wanted to call your attention to an article on Freddie deBoer’s website about the clash between radical (i.e., “progressive”) and moderate Democrats. Click below to read it, but subscribe if you read often:

deBoer is far to the left of me, and of most Democrats, and earlier in his career as a radical he simply had nothing to do with Democrats. deBoer is, I believe, a socialist:

 

I was very active in my campus’s Progressive Student Alliance, which was the far-lefty group that was (unsurprisingly for the times) mostly devoted to anti-Iraq War, anti-War on Terror activism. Separately, I went to meetings where a couple of guys tried to get the College Democrats off the ground. (It may say something about college, or only my non-competitive commuter public school, that the PSA had dozens of committed members while the Dems could never attract more than a handful of people.) Here’s the thing: as far as I’m aware I was the only PSA member who ever attended a single College Dems meeting while I was there, and this was not at all surprising to anyone. Because the PSA was for socialists and radicals, and socialists and radicals did not get invested in the Democrats, understanding them to be a capitalist imperialist etc. party, and most Democrats would not get involved with groups like the PSA, seeing it as a hive of unrealistic sanctimonious purists etc.

deBoer was for Bernie, of course, and was heartened by Bernie’s loss because “The vicious infighting of 2016 between Hillary Clinton and Sanders supporters seems to have presaged a perpetual combat for the heart of a party that, a generation earlier, most radicals assumed was beyond saving.”  But there was no saving the Democrats for socialists: there are simply too many centrists or Left-Centrists.  deBoer seems to have come to realize this:

What I find so strange about the left-of-liberals of the world is that they constantly say, “The Democrats are so feckless and corrupt! Why won’t they support my radical agenda?” And the obvious answer is because they’re feckless and corrupt, dummy! Your own analysis answers your question! There’s this relentless stepping-on-a-rake dynamic with left-of-liberals today: they have this systemic critique of Democrats (they’re in thrall to moneyed interests and captured by Clintonian assumptions and truly a center-right party etc etc) that perfectly explains why the Democrats won’t do what they want, but they still spend endless hours screaming at the heavens about what the Democrats won’t do. Now, personally, I think the left-of-liberal theory of the world – that the Democrats could pass all manner of radical legislation and fundamentally change our system if they just wanted it more – is transparently incorrect. We’re a 50-50 Democrat/Republican nation among consistent voters, there is absolutely no reason to believe that the third of Americans who don’t vote are some sort of radical bloc, and the Republican party is much more uniformly conservative than the Democratic party is uniformly progressive. But set all of that aside, and you’re still left with the fact that the American radical position explains perfectly why the Democrats won’t give radicals what they want: it’s a ruling-class party. Take your own perspective seriously!

Well, I’m not sure if it’s a “ruling-class party”, and even my own membership doesn’t allow me to evade that monicker.  As for deBoer, well, he apparently voted for “ruling-class Democrats”, perhaps holding his nose; but he seems to be getting tired of the fracas among Democrats between “progressives” and everybody else:

I voted last week because it costs me nothing to do so, and I think there are better or worse outcomes depending on electoral politics. But I never expect anything from the Democrats. Never. I don’t think the primary was stolen from Bernie in 2016 or 2020, but even if I did I wouldn’t get all hepped up about it because that would simply be Democrats engaging in business as usual. And I still know some old-school commies who call Bernie a sheepdog and who never sit around whining about how the Democrats don’t come through for them. Because they’re commies and they see the Democrats as a tool of the ruling class, obviously. And I’ll tell you, while I have deep reservations about giving up on partisan politics in this way, it has a certain logic that left-of-liberal types lack, and is also a more pleasant way to live. If you think the Democrats are full of shit, stop expecting them to give you want you want! I get it: the best thing would be if the Democrats worked as hard to placate the hard left as the Republicans work to placate the hard right. But your own theory of the world tells you why that won’t happen, and I’m growing increasingly tired of listening to frogs complain that they keep getting stung by the same scorpion.

As the old “serenity prayer” goes—something that jibes with the meditation lessons I’m taking—save for the “God” part:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

deBoer is either getting wiser or simply more fatigued. I’m tired, too, but I’ll take what I can get, and what we just got was better than I hoped for.

Liz Truss resigns as Prime Minister

October 20, 2022 • 8:21 am

Well, some people predicted that Tory Truss wouldn’t last much longer than this, and, indeed, she has resigned as Prime Minister after only six weeks in office.

Prime Minister Liz Truss announced on Thursday that she would resign, just days after her new finance minister reversed virtually all of her planned tax cuts, sweeping away a free-market fiscal agenda that promised a radical policy shift for Britain but instead plunged the country into weeks of economic and political turmoil.

“I cannot deliver the mandate on which I was elected,” she said in brief remarks outside Downing Street.

She said she had informed King Charles III that she was resigning as leader of the Conservative Party, and that she would remain leader and prime minister until a successor is chosen within a week.

Her departure, after only six weeks in office, was a shockingly rapid fall from power, and throws her Conservative Party into further disarray, following the messy departure of Boris Johnson from Downing Street over the summer.

The announcement came minutes after Ms. Truss held an unscheduled meeting with Graham Brady, the head of a group of Conservative lawmakers known as the 1922 Committee that plays an influential role in selecting the party leader.

It was truly a debacle, and I’m not sure whether the replacement has to be a Tory, or whether they’ll hold a new election. (That’s how pathetically little I know about British politics.) At any rate, this is by far the shortest tenure of any Prime Minister in British history; the runner-up is George Canning, who took the job on April 10, 1827, but died from pneumonia four months later.

I invite British readers to celebrate. Does this increase the chances of a Labour government? And, if so, do they have a good candidate for PM?

Larry does!

Journalist critical of Iranian regime deplatformed here after bomb threats

October 19, 2022 • 10:15 am

Correction: In the previous version of this post, I stated that the National Iranian American Council was affiliated with the Iranian government. That was incorrect: it is an independent lobbying organization advocating for the interests of Iranian-Americans. I have made this correction below.

_________________

Well, we had an attempted deplatforming of a speaker here this week. But first, a bit of background.

The University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics (IoP)is a nonpartisan organization that hosts a diversity of speakers from all parts of the political spectrum (see a partial list below). It exists to promote political engagement of young people; as Wikipedia notes:

The Institute of Politics is an extracurricular, nonpartisan institute at the University of Chicago designed to inspire students to pursue careers in politics and public service. The Institute accomplishes its goals through four major avenues: a civic engagement program, where students take part in community service projects and gain leadership skills, a fellows program that hosts a group of political and policy professionals to lead seminars for an academic quarter, a speaker series featuring public events with a diverse array of political figures, and a career development program featuring hundreds of internships in government, politics and policy. It was formally established in 2013 with David Axelrod, who was President Barack Obama’s chief campaign advisor, as its director.

Since its inception, the IOP has hosted prominent speakers including Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, Al Gore, Rick Santorum, John McCain, Newt Gingrich, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, Amy Klobuchar, John Brennan, Frank Bruni, Edward Snowden (via videochat), Jon Stewart, Arthur Brooks, Bill Browder, Gina Raimondo, and Chance the Rapper; hosted fellows such as Beth Myers, Michael Steele, Roger Simon, Husain Haqqani, Matthew Dowd, Howard Wolfson, Mark Udall, Tom Harkin, Michael Morell, Jeff Roe, Reihan Salam, and Bakari Sellers. It has arranged over 250 student internships to institutions like the U.S. Capitol, the Brookings Institution, and the White House, and placed over 300 students in civic engagement projects.

And students have protested IoP speakers before, like former Donald Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Some IoP speakers have even been shut down by both student and non-student disruption, including Cook County attorney Anita Alvarez, criticized for “state violence against brown and Black people” (their capitalization) and deplatformed by, among others, Black Lives Matter protestors.  Some speakers, like Natalie Jaresko, executive director of the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico, were subject to attempted student disruption, but protestors were kicked out by the cops. Note that all these protests came from the Left, like most recent disruptions and deplatformings in American colleges.

Finally, an op-ed at the Chicago Maroon, our student newspaper, has called for disbanding the IoP as a whole, dubbing it “an institution that encourages and enables new drones to enter a career in politics and spend a lifetime getting paid to manufacture the illusion of progress and problem-solving—the Institute of Politics.” That’s just bizarre. Are we not to have politics at all?

Yesterday another speaker was disrupted—and her panel canceled as a live event— as someone phoned in bomb threats to the IoP’s building before the discussion was to take place. As the Maroon reported:

The University of Chicago Institute of Politics (IOP) told student staff not to enter the building Tuesday afternoon after the institute received a bomb threat this morning over a panelist for an event on protests in Iran. The panelist, Negar Mortazavi, has been accused of having connections to the Iranian government despite criticizing it in the media. Multiple sources at the IOP familiar with the situation informed The Maroon that the closure was due to safety concerns.

The bomb threat was received via email, according to a source that communicated with The Maroon.

Another source told The Maroon that law enforcement had searched the IOP’s house on South Woodlawn Avenue with bomb-sniffing dogs. The source also said that people had been coming into the Institute throughout the day falsely claiming to know IOP staffers.

The IOP had been receiving calls critical of Mortazavi since last week in regard to “Taking it to the Streets: the Power of Iranian Women Now,” an event scheduled for this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. that was shifted from in person to virtual Tuesday morning in consultation with the University. Another IOP event scheduled for today, a seminar with IOP fellow Laura Dove, moved to a building across the street.

The panel was called “Taking it to the Streets: The Power of Iranian Women Now”.

I myself received two emails from a correspondent who refused to give his/her name, asking me to help shut down the event because of Mortazavi’s supposed complicity with the government of Iran. She is a member of the National Iranian American Council, a group (not affiliated with the Iranian government) that lobbies in America for the country. Mortazavi recently published a piece in The New Republic critical of the regime’s treatment of women, and her TNR video below buttresses that criticism of the regime. The Maroon adds “Mortazavi, who has been critical of the Iranian government’s crackdown on protests, responded to the controversy surrounding her on Twitter and labeled the attacks on her as ‘smears.’”  I have no idea why anyone would phone in a bomb threat against her unless they were supporting the insupportable present actions of the Iranian government.

Regardless, I was asked to help deplatform her; my anonymous correspondent (who used an untraceable Protonmail email address) wrote this:

Such a person who whitewashed the regime’s crimes should not be on campus speaking about the current situation. She should not take the spot from qualified Iran experts who have highlighted the Iran regime’s human rights infractions for years.
Of course there is no way I was going to help deplatform anybody, and so I responded this way.
Sorry, but although I am a huge opponent of the Iranian regime, I am, like my University, a big supporter of free speech. I don’t believe in prohibiting people from speaking, but opposing them by favoring counterspeech, and I’m constantly criticizing the Iranian government. The University of Chicago does not ban invited speakers or deplatform them, so there’s nothing I could do about this, even if I wanted to.

I have to say that it crossed my mind that my correspondent might have been involved in the bomb threat; why else would someone hide their identity this way? Who knows?

At any rate, the show did go on: they did hold the panel, but it was virtual:

The IOP had been receiving calls critical of Mortazavi since last week in regard to “Taking it to the Streets: the Power of Iranian Women Now,” an event scheduled for this afternoon at 3:30 p.m. that was shifted from in person to virtual Tuesday morning in consultation with the University. Another IOP event scheduled for today, a seminar with IOP fellow Laura Dove, moved to a building across the street

Here’s the video, which seems to show Mortazavi to be sufficiently critical of Iran that she would be punished or detained were she to return to Iran:

 

Bill Maher on why Herschel Walker is a viable candidate

October 18, 2022 • 1:15 pm

Here Bill Maher talks about Herschel Walker, and why such an unfit candidate remains a viable candidate.  James Carville would say that Republicans are going to shoot themselves in the foot with people like Walker because “they have really stupid people who vote in their primaries”, and thus “they tend to elect really stupid leaders.” But Herschel’s candidacy, claims Maher, has more import than that.

Maher’s explanation starts at 4:11, and involves a strong rejection of “what Democrats are selling”.  I’m not sure I agree with Maher’s analysis of how Republicans nominated Walker to “make a point”. And it should be clear that Maher is criticizing woke Democrats, not all Democrats. I just hope like hell that Walker doesn’t wind up as a Senator.  That would shame America, but we already have lots of Republicans in Congress whose presence shames America.

Today’s reading: the infusion of evangelical Christianity into Texas politics

October 10, 2022 • 12:00 pm

Texas, with its Republican governor Greg Abbott, is a prime example of how, in the face of declining religious belief in America, Republicans and other conservatives are trying hard to push their political ideology by dragging in evangelical Christianity. And they’re succeeding, at least as judged by Texas’s new anti-abortion law, implicitly based on Christianity.

The article below shows how eager the Christian camels of Texas are to stick their noses into the political tent, and how subtly they try to sneak religious language and values into governance. Oddly enough, the article comes from Texas Monthly. Yes, it’s Texas, Jake, but this kind of thing is happening all over America, especially in red states. Click to read:

I’ll give just a few quotes to show how religionists are getting away with this stuff, despite the secularization of America and the First Amendment:

After the Texas Supreme Court sided with cheerleaders in East Texas in August 2018 and allowed them to display a verse from the New Testament on their football team’s run-through banner, state attorney general Ken Paxton tweeted in support. “God bless these young cheerleaders for their faith in God and their fight to protect their religious liberties. Just like their banners said, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’” The verse, taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippian church, references the apostle’s spiritual growth, which allows him to endure the unpredictability—including hunger and financial need—in his missionary work. The verse has become popular among athletes, politicians, and other competitors as a triumphalist blessing over their ambitions.

Note that what the Texas Supreme Court okayed was an explicit violation of the separation of church and state encoded in the First Amendment. (Of course, were this to be appealed to the Supreme Court, they’d almost surely uphold the Texas court.)

Texas Senator Ted Cruz is particularly adept at using either direct or coded Christian language:

By using religious language, the more explicit the better, [Princeton sociologist Robert Wuthnow] said candidates can demonstrate their willingness to bring faith into the public sphere, an idea supported by many—including 89 percent of white evangelicals, who believe the Bible should have an influence on U.S. laws.

That repeated signal has muddied people’s understanding about what kind of religious liberty is actually guaranteed by the Constitution, said Amanda Tyler, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, based in Washington, D.C. “I think there’s great confusion in the culture about what is meant by religious freedom or religious liberty, and that is because there has been a concerted effort to privilege Christianty and call it religious liberty.”

Indeed. Many religious Jews, for example, as well as gazillions of nonbelievers, don’t believe in “souls”— one basis for draconian abortion laws—and so banning or severely restricting abortion is usually based on the Christian faith (including Catholicism).

The effectiveness of Trump’s championing of white evangelicals’ priorities was striking: most forgave the notorious playboy for his coarse speech, cruelty toward the downtrodden, and flagrant immorality. Trump also eschewed the kind of civic unity that requires politicians to use broad language, and opened the door more widely for the public promotion of a single religion. A perusal of Texas’s statewide officeholders shows a number of tweets, stump speeches, and television appearances heavy with a specific expression of evangelical Christianity.

There are several examples.

One more quote, but do read the article, which is thoughtful and analytical:

“By God’s grace, we can give every child the chance to live a happy and fulfilling life,” said Governor Greg Abbott in a statement proclaiming January 22, 2018, to be “Sanctity of Human Life Day.” The use of “by God’s grace” in public addresses could refer to any number of verses in the Christian Bible, and in public speech it often occupies a middle ground between ceremonial deism such as “in God we trust” and something more personal. But in politics, the phrase is closely related to “By the Grace of God” or “Dei Gratia,” which is part of the way that European Christian monarchs have been ceremonially addressed. It was a phrase added to their names to imply that their authority was a gift from God. Not enough American voters likely know about the European uses of the phrase to receive that signal.

But now you know the signal. Though the data all show that America is losing its religion, the country is becoming more theocratic. That’s because Christians are fighting hard to bring faith into politics, while the average American either doesn’t know or doesn’t care that much.

h/t: Alister

On Herschel Walker’s candidacy: is Andrew Sullivan becoming a Democrat?

October 8, 2022 • 1:30 pm

As James Carville said the other day in a video I posted, “[the Republicans have really stupid people who vote in their primaries”, and thus “they tend to elect really stupid leaders.”

One of those stupid leaders is Herschel Walker, an ex football star now running as a Republican candidate for Senate in Georgia.  Walker is unbelievably stupid and hamhanded—so far away from the semblance of a rational politician that Andrew Sullivan devoted mostof his weekly column to a splenetic dissection of Walker’s idiocy and hypocrisy.  Americans will know one example of that: Walker is running as a hard anti-abortion candidate, who sees abortion as murder, yet all the evidence shows that he paid for one of his girlfriends to get an abortion. And, despite the palpable evidence (including a check and get-well card from Walker), the candidate says he doesn’t even know the woman.

Walker also said this about evolution, as reported by CNN:

“At one time, science said man came from apes, did it not?” Walker, the frontrunner for the Georgia Republican Senate nomination, said in an appearance over the weekend at a church in Sugar Hill, Georgia. “If that is true, why are there still apes? Think about it.”

Yes, I’ve spent my life thinking about this stupid creationist canard, but only a moronic Republican (which is almost a redudancy) would parade that kind of ignorance in public. I expect every reader of this website should be able to refute Walker’s claim. (By the way, why don’t reporters ever ask candidates if they accept the fact of evolution? Anybody answering “no” should automatically be deemed unfit for office.)

As reader Steve noted, when he sent me the link (I do subscribe), “I think [Sullivan] is at the top of his form in this post.” And indeed he is. In fact, Sully rails so hard against the Republican party as a whole that he might as well start calling himself an independent centrist.  Click on the screenshot to read:

The intro, clearly showing a disaffection for Republicans:

There are times, I confess, when I decide to pass on writing another column on how degenerate the Republican Party is. What else is there to say? It’s not as if the entire media class isn’t saying it every hour of every day. And it’s not as if the depravity of the party hasn’t been a longtime hobbyhorse of mine. Unlike most of the Never-Trumper set, I was writing about this derangement on the right in the 1990s. I tore into George W. Bush’s spend, borrow and torture policies. I wrote a book on what I thought conservatism really was in 2006 — and why the GOP was its nemesis. I couldn’t have been clearer about what Palin represented — even as Bill Kristol selected her to be a potential president.

But then you come across the Senate candidacy of one Herschel Walker, and, well, words fail. No magical realist fiction writer could come up with something so sickeningly absurd. Walker is, of course, inextricable from his longtime friend, Donald Trump, who made his campaign possible in March 2021. . .

Sullivan goes hard on Walker’s unbelievable stupidity (and also mentions the man’s evolution denialism):

Walker is, to start with, very dumb. I don’t usually note this quality in a candidate and it doesn’t make him a huge outlier in politics of course. Being brainy, moreover, can be a serious liability for some pols. But seriously: this stupid?

Here is Walker’s grasp of climate change: “Our good air decided to float over to China’s bad air so when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move.” Here’s his take on John Lewis: “Senator Lewis was one of the greatest senators that’s ever been, and for African Americans that was absolutely incredible. To throw his name on a bill for voting rights I think is a shame.” On the Inflation Reduction Act: “They continue to try to fool you that they are helping you out. But they’re not. Because a lot of money, it’s going to trees. Don’t we have enough trees around here?”

After running through Walker’s sins of lying, abuse, harassment, stupidity, and hypocrisy, and wondering how any Republican can still support Walker’s candidacy, but observing that they do so out of tribalism, Sullivan argues:

I am not saying that the Democrats are not also corrupted by rank tribalism. At their worst, they are, as I often point out. I am saying that they do not compare with the current GOP in its hollowness and depravity and madness.

Walker shows that there is no principle they will not jettison, no evil they will not excuse, no crime they won’t “whatabout,” and no moron they won’t elect, if it means they gain power. There is degeneracy among many Democrats, sure. But the Republican party is defined by this putrescence. Burn it down.

Burn it down, with “it” being the Republican party? That’s not the Sullivan of yore! But you have to hand it to Andrew: he’s persuaded by reason and sometimes changes his mind. In this case, he was also persuaded by stupidity.

But there is a slight nod to faith in the piece. I don’t consider it terribly significant—though I aways thought Sullivan’s own Catholicism was a striking departure from his rationality—but reader Steve wanted to mention it. In one part of his piece, Sullivan attacks Republicans who still support Walker, despite his failure as both candidate and human being, because he can win:

It’s rare to see this kind of nihilist consequentialism expressed so nakedly. It’s rare to hear someone publicly say something so deeply hostile to any shred of Christianity. (Christians never believe the ends justify any means. Christianism is defined by that principle.) But nothing matters to the current GOP more than victory, by fair means or foul, by democratic processes or not.

And here’s where Steve finds some fault:

[Sullivan] does, however, betray his weakness for his religion in this sentence: “Christians never believe the ends justify any means.” On the contrary, the history of Christianity shows the continued reliance on the pious fiction or noble lie to gain adherents.

The column referenced, a good one, is by Neil Godfrey, and recounts the “noble lies” of Scripture: outrageous claims (like Jesus walking on water) seen as metaphorical by some theologians. Their end was to make converts; their means was to use Biblical claims the theologians didn’t accept but that demonstrated the miracles of God and Jesus.

But you don’t even have to go to the Bible to see lots of Christians violating Sullivan’s claim by showing that “the ends justify any means.”

The Inquisition is but one example.

That aside, Sullivan’s column is remarkably good.

A half hour on politics with James Carville, who’s optimistic about the Democrats

October 2, 2022 • 1:30 pm

Whenever I feel dispirited about politics, I try to watch James Carville’s latest take on video. It may not be cheerful (though this one should buck up Democrats), but I love his Louisiana accent and as well as his genuine populist-Democatic take, knocking the wind out of “progressive” Democrats, whom he sees as elitist, arrogant, and inimical to the progress of Democrats. (Carville is, of course, an ardent Democrat, but can’t stand fellow party members who, he thinks, don’t understand America). He’s the Andy Rooney of the Democratic Party.

Here we have Carville in August on “The Hill”, talking for a half hour with Niall Stanage about the state of the Democratic Party. I have to say that he’s more optimistic than I am about the midterm elections and about Trump’s possible run for the Presidency (Carville doesn’t think that will happen.) And that makes me feel better, perhaps because I agree with him, but perhaps because Carville has a pretty good track record with prognostications.

So here are a few bullet points in favor of the Democrats articulated by Carville:

  • He is pretty optimistic about the midterms, seeing it as likely that Democrats will will the Senate (of course, they already have, but at least he thinks the Republicans won’t gain control.
  • Voters, he says, are not impressed by the kind of “change” offered by the Republican party, which is not having a good year.
  • Inflation and economic problems are, he says, abating, and although Biden will still be blamed for them, he’s done a good job as President, having “substantial achievement” and having made some good appointments. He seems to think, but won’t “jinx” the next Presidential election, that Biden will be the Democratic Presidential candidate in 2024, though Carville for the moment would rather concentrate on this November’s midterm elections.
  • He thinks that Republicans are going to be vulnerable on the Mar-a-Lago papers issue. Their only defense is that this is a Democratic conspiracy, but that doesn’t sit well with most Americans,
  • Carville emphasizes that if you look at how people self-identify among Democrats, you find that, at only 11%, “progressive liberals” is the smallest group, and the only one that’s majority white. He decries them because “they have the ability to irritate and come up with really stupid things like ‘Defund the Police’: the worst words in the English language.
  • When Stanage asks him what people like him should do about the progressive Democrats, Carville says, “Make fun of them.”  He minces no words!
  • Finally, he doesn’t think Trump will be the Republican nominee in 2024. Further, he believes that the Republicans are going to shoot themselves in the foot because “they ahve really stupid people who vote in their primaries”, and thus “they tend to elect really stupid leaders.”  (He sees most electable Republicans as having dropped out of contention.)

Watch the video to see the Democrats’ Andy Rooney!: