Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Things can get worse...

==  It can get lots worse than Trump ==

God's Plan for Mike Pence: This Atlantic article reminds us who and what is waiting on the wings, if Donald Trump leaves the scene - voluntarily or not. 

“Because God works in mysterious ways (or, at the very least, has a postmodern sense of humor), it was Donald J. Trump—gracer of Playboy covers, delighter of shock jocks, collector of mistresses—who descended from the mountaintop in the summer of 2016, GOP presidential nomination in hand, offering salvation to both Pence and the religious right. The question of whether they should wed themselves to such a man was not without its theological considerations. But after eight years of Barack Obama and a string of disorienting political defeats, conservative Christians were in retreat and out of options. So they placed their faith in Trump—and then, incredibly, he won.”

“Pence has so far showed absolute deference to the president—and as a result he has become one of the most influential figures in the White House, with a broad portfolio of responsibilities and an unprecedented level of autonomy. But for all his aw-shucks modesty, Pence is a man who believes heaven and Earth have conspired to place him a heartbeat—or an impeachment vote—away from the presidency.”

I have elsewhere explained why all this talk of Impeach Trump is positively loony. Trump is a known quantity who shoots himself in the foot, daily. Almost every grownup in the civil service, courts, military and intelligence services are alerted to the madness, if not horrified and ready to heroically throw themselves under a bus in order to cancel anything too crazy.

But read here what’s waiting in the wings. Picture the conservative-by-personality officers in the Army and FBI etc, overcome with relief when the soft-spoken Pence moves in, a relief he would exploit with pre-planned care. Replacing the Trump White House, which leaks like a sieve, would be an utterly disciplined and tight ship of Dominionists eager to end the world and bring on every horror described in the Book of Revelation. 

(They are quite open about wanting this... an end to all democracy, diversity, tolerance, ambition, competition, cooperation, endeavor... an end to all children... and an end to the United States of America, amid fire and hell for most of its citizens. This is what they openly avow that they seek. Ponder that. And ponder The Button.)

I go through a dozen reasons why this man would be ten times as dangerous as Trump. You Americans have fallen for so many confederate traps, already. When will you start being canny, assessing the situation calmly, and acting for the long term. Like a Grant. Like a Lincoln? 

== Can it get any more blatant? ==

Trump’s nominee to run the Census  is the author of a 2008 book titled Redistricting and Representation: Why Competitive Elections Are Bad for America.” The pick would break with the long-standing precedent of choosing a nonpolitical government official as deputy director of the U.S. Census Bureau. The job has typically been held by a career civil servant with a background in statistics. It does not require Senate confirmation, so Congress would have no power to block the hire.

Monsters and traitors.  Worse than that. Blatant confederates.

Your answer to mad uncles who cite the recent stock market rise as “the Trump Effect”: People who bought in at the inauguration of Obama in 2009 made a 300%+ killing. Maybe then this is just the historical trend that the economy of the first year of an administration is credited to the predecessor.

How long has he been an agent of – or at least a target for recruitment by – the Kremlin? Have a look how far backNow combine that with the reasoning I lay forth here: that by far the favorite recruitment tactic of intelligence agencies is not bribery or ideology… but blackmail.

Values? Shall we try values? If we subtract outliers like Utah and Detroit & Chicago, name a metric of moral and healthy living that is not worse in Red America, from teen sex, STD and pregnancy rates to obesity, dropouts, divorce and domestic violence, gambling and so on. Name... one... exception.  Other than abortion which is a disagreement over fundamentals. 

Let’s dive in, according to this article:

“Last year, Bible-believing Louisiana had the highest murder rate in the country. Moore’s Alabama came in third. Prayer-drenched Mississippi had the sixth-worst. You’re much safer when surrounded by skeptics. 

"The irreligious state of Massachusetts had the fifth-lowest murder rate, with only 17 percent as many homicides per capita as Louisiana. Godless New Hampshire and Maine had the nation’s lowest murder rates.

“Of the 10 least religious states, none is among the 10 most dangerous. Of the 10 most religious states, only Utah is among the 10 that are least hospitable to homicide.

“God-fearing places also don’t have a stellar record of upholding the family. The divorce rate is 50 percent higher in Alabama than in Massachusetts — which, by the way, was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. New Hampshire and Mississippi, at opposite ends of the religiosity spectrum, are virtually identical in the propensity for marital dissolution.”

Then this: President Trump retweeted, quoted and highly touted a right wing site called “Britain First”… that relished the attention. Then the group tried frantically to scrub tons of pro-Putin propaganda on their board lest anyone get the right idea about the links between "conservatives" and Kremlin.

== Are you SURE Halloween is over? ==

Here are scary items:

* Johns Hopkins psychologist John Gartner suggests an “80 percent chance” that Trump will push the nuclear button.

*Are you reassured, then, that the top U.S. nuclear commander told a security conference Saturday that he would not execute a nuclear launch ordered by President Trump if he considered the order to be “illegal?”

* Well, I have repeatedly said we depend utterly upon the sanity and maturity of the U.S. military Officer Corps… and the dems should be recruiting thousands of retired officers to run for every red-district office.

* Still, there is a way to safety that’s short of impeachment and more reliable than officers hinting they would disobey “illegal orders,” and it might even get passed by a Republican Congress. It is veto-proof and calming and entirely plausible. See it here.

* Conservative intellectuals have led the way in denouncing Donald Trump as not a "true conservative." And yes, a conclave of residually-same conservatives might yet gather to salvage something decent and American from the ashes of their movement. But this article - and the book The Reactionary Mind - attacks the very idea that Trump is anything but what he seems. A factotum of aristocracy and the far-right.

* And this article by a Christian minister asks: “Christians have traditionally rejected the worship of money, sex and power. Do we still?” A year into Trump's presidency, Christians are facing a spiritual quandary.

“Meanwhile, in the absence of a clearly-articulated foreign policy vision from the administration, The Economist—hardly a bastion of left-wing politics—has taken a stab at trying to characterize the Trump Doctrine. Their take: "America's foreign policy: embrace thugs, dictators and strongmen." They note the President's friendly relationship with Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, and others, not to mention his disdain for refugees, immigrants, and the like. While the magazine is no fan of Barack Obama's foreign policy, he seems like Nixon or Talleyrand or Metternich next to Trump.”  www.electoral-vote.com

And yet, I have repeatedly told you that there is much hope to be found in the members of the United States Military Officer Corps. Now there’s this: “Sixteen of the nation’s top retired military commanders are urging Congress to pass gun control legislation, arguing that there are many steps that can be taken to curb gun deaths that do not violate the Second Amendment.”

 == Wikileaks and accountability ==

There are times when I’d rather not be right. Going back to the beginning, I have always had mixed feelings about WikiLeaks… approving of the general concept and trend toward transparency/accountability, while instinctively suspicious toward a rising aroma of hypocrisy and political bias favoring the stinkiest parts of our modern world. Do read this article! Now we know that:

In Twitter direct messages during the last throes of the US election campaign, released over the past week, WikiLeaks, which US intelligence has deemed a tool of Russian intelligence, attempted to woo Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, with offers of secret collusion.”

“The radical libertarians and the autocrats are allied by virtue of sharing an enemy which is the mainstream, soft, establishment, liberal politics,” said Jamie Bartlett, the director of the centre for the analysis of social media at the Demos think tank. “Most early, hardline cryptographers who were part of this movement in the 1990s considered that democracy and liberty were not really compatible. Like most radical libertarians – as Assange was – the principal enemy was the soft democrats who were imposing the will of the majority on the minority and who didn’t really believe in genuine, absolute freedom.”

The Guardian article goes on to show an extensive network of “libertarians” whose collusion with the Kremlin, as well as other despotic or proto-feudal factions, has been getting ever more blatant and smelly.  Only… note my use of quotation marks around “libertarians”! Alas, this reporter - and almost every other smart observer - is falling for a longstanding trap. One with devastating consequences, in its cleverness.

Think it through. The nightmare of the right is that ten million Americans with libertarian, pro-market enterprise leanings will someday realize that there are no reasons to keep thinking of the Republican Party as “less-terrible” than Democrats.  

The standard narrative is that “liberals like personal freedom” and “conservatives fight for economic freedom.” And as long as the incantation of false equivalence can be maintained, the oligarchs know that most “libertarians” will remain prone to accepting Koch-Murdoch propaganda, hold their noses and vote GOP.

Never mind that in fact market economics are savagely repressed by almost every Republican priority or action, and every single active metric of US national health - especially entrepreneurship, small business, innovation and so - does better across the span of democratic administrations than republican ones. That’s every single such metric.   See: Do Outcomes Matter More than Rhetoric?

 Some libertarians are re-awakening to the fact that their founder - Adam Smith - emphasized the creative power of competition - and not the religious sanctity of property, which he denounced as the worst enemy (if too concentrated) of open-fair competition. Some libertarians have glanced at human history and 6000 years during which the destroyers of flat-fair-creative competition were oligarchs and owner-cheater lords, and not “government bureaucrats."

Yes, generalizations about libertarians come easily, with facile “obviousness.” But attacking them only drives them away from the light, back into Murdoch-Koch arms. 

Try parsing things more clearly. Libertarians who want both freedom and democracy - as well as a vibrant entrepreneurial economy - should be lured into conversation.  

Those who declare that “democracy and freedom are incompatible” are members of the ancient enemy of both, denounced by Smith. They are rushing to throw themselves at the feet of an oligarchy that has only changed a few symbols since King George. They don’t deserve the name “libertarian.” 


== From 9/11 to 11/9  ==

And finally a lesser but still worrisome sickness of the left

From 9/11 to 11/9 (the election of President Donald Trump): A short history of World War IV Philosopher Jean Baudrillard predicted this 15 years ago: The Western world is waging a long war — against itself.

The 9/11 - 11/9 palindrome is reminiscent of my own rumination that each century's theme becomes apparent about a decade and a half into it.

Back to the article: "Were the shocking attacks of September 2001 and the shocking election result of November 2016 — 9/11 and 11/9, the palindrome that defines our age — fluke occurrences amid the general upward trajectory of Western civilization? Or do they represent, as Baudrillard argued in the first instance, Western civilization’s innate yearning toward its own destruction?"

Goodie. I am reassured. The title sounded sensibly curious and I wondered... is this actual common sense coming from the postmodernist clique? Then I saw the crap about "Western civilization’s innate yearning toward its own destruction?" And I am reinforced in my hatred of these guys, despite even when they seem partly correct.

The "West" is more dynamic and modernist and creative than ever! The problem isn't hatred of "itself." The problem is that we are welded at the hip to a minority of fellow citizens who can only be called "confederate. About a third of these neighbors -- in the U.S. and Europe -- are congenitally terrified of modernity and our willingness to confidently confront change. In America, it is the very same "civil war" that goes back - in phases - to 1778.

These are different parties! The "West" is not so much self-hating as saddled with idiot cousins who are violently hostile to the enlightenment, to science, to all fact-using professions, and to the very thought of incremental progress.

We must not return their hate -- every time the Union defeated a fever of confederate madness, we moved to "charity for all and malice toward none." 

But this will entail first prying our cousins' hands from around our throats and the throat of the Republic. Postmodernist polysyllabic lefty flakes are no help at all.

102 comments:

The Black Cat said...

RE: respective murder rates, the old standby "correlation does not imply causation" applies. Massachusetts has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country. Deep red states not so much. I expect that has more to do with it than the respective religious beliefs of the citizens. There are plenty of Christians in MA.

Treebeard said...

The year's not over, so I guess the chickens are still at it (see https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/08/the-year-of-the-headless-liberal-chicken/ -- a leftist site, but you gotta read it -- it nails you guys perfectly).

There's an obvious factor that explains "moral" discrepancies involving Utah, Detroit, Chicago, the Deep South, the Northeast, etc. Hmm, I wonder what it could be? Can anyone with an advanced degree help me out here?

Andrew Fader said...

Pence and Trump will both go down in Mueller's investigation, IMHO. Pence was intimately involved in the Russia affair.

Treebeard said...

That Salon piece is pretty good imo. The question of “what is the West”? is the big one. Did the West begin with the Enlightenment and 1776/1789, or were those usurpations of an older tradition that was in many ways their opposite? Was Christianity just another religion, that will be tolerated when it does charity work but otherwise accepts that it has been defeated by a superior ideology, like the Show Indians of the old West? Is the mission of the West now to create a secular, deracinated homo globalus, disconnected from its history and traditions, gender fluid, fucking in love with science, and awaiting its uplift into posthuman techno-gods? Some fanatics and science fiction enthusiasts think so; many do not. And of course this disagreement will not be decided by elections.

Catfish N. Cod said...

In my habit of usually trusting links Dr. Brin sends as astute and meaningful, I clicked on the Salon article about "World War IV". I should have been more careful, as the "World War IV" characterization typically emanates from a confederate standpoint which defines Western civilization in terms of its current enemy. In this passion-play version of history, the Cold War must be "World War III", because it was the defeat of authoritarian socialism.

The idea that the West is again fighting itself sounded like a possible insight. After all, World War II and the Cold War were both about various Western-derived authoritarian models challenging the liberal order for dominance. (This made it distinct from World War I, which was simply an avoidable collapse of a system that could have lived a few more decades otherwise.) The original "World War IV" was supposed to be against Islamism, notionally the next authoritarianism to challenge the West. But as a challenger, Islamism is pathetic. It can only survive in failed states, it no more than inconveniences the life of the ecumene, it is readily defeated by competent forces on the battlefield and it is a disastrous horror at trying to operate a civilization.

So the idea that our real conflict comes from within seemed a plausible one. Certainly we see that reactionary policies are en vogue throughout the West, if only because the Fascintern in Moscow is giving it performance-enhancing steroids. So I dug in, looking for the next step in thought, the analysis that described the new challenging paradigm.

There wasn't one. It asserted that the West secretly wants to collapse, and then.... nothing. Either the author thinks this ideology obvious, or is leaving it blank for popularity by choose-your-own-adventure (as our resident ent has already attempted)... or else it's just empty platitudes, complaining for the sake of complaint, with no constructive ideas to offer.

There's no there there.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Black Cat: your analysis fails to connect that the Christians of MA somehow support gun laws and the Christians of AL do not. Neither of these is the independent variable.

Our ent, of course, desires the fall of our civilization. Having a straightforward idea of what to replace it with -- and why it would be better -- is sort of secondary. The collective decision-making of the Western world, in which "elites" and millions of ordinary citizens cooperate in open debate, is recast as a cross between a deep conspiracy (which is somehow completely open) and the sort of mindless corporate droneship that leftists always believe in. "Deep State" isn't a new idea. Chomsky's been preaching it for decades.

Of course I'd like to get rid of corporate lordship! It may be better than landed aristocracy but it's no less dangerous to freedom. But aside from the Mondragon model, which has stably outperformed rivals for decades, no... fully... socialist... model... ever... works. Not as an economy, and not as a source of freedom. The collapse to dictatorship takes years at most. Some less. And some don't even make it to having a well-organized society, like the innumerable attempts at a Paris Commune.

It's not enough to question the system. You have to have an answer as well. Otherwise, you're just a heckler. And the author of that piece has made his entire living off being just such a heckler, in the capitalist system he heckles. Good for him. Enjoyable. But only entertainment, until you do something practical.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Now Dominionists, they have a program! They know just what to do. Theocratically inspired laws. Enforcement of gender norms, marriage norms, and social norms. Sexuality and reproduction as an enforced package deal, either forbidden or compulsory. Control of education to reinforce the official narrative. Rewriting of history to support the official narrative. Suppression of dissent and of subpopulations whose existence brings the narrative into question. Authority and hierarchy, unquestioned nationalism and glorious patriarchy, and militarism in the name of the Faith. In short, thought control to enforce the Mandated Values and support those who Benevolently Rule.

Sorry, but that model went out the window the day Gutenberg fired up his press.

No, Christianity is *not* just another religion, because its concepts provided a fertile ground for freedom to re-emerge. Not all religions work quite as well; Islam tries, sometimes, but isn't nearly as efficient. Buddhism is too detached for it to be consistent. Hinduism and Taoism and many others are quite explicit about suppressing such nonsense in favor of feudalism. Everyone Has A Place: Stay In Yours Or Suffer.

But even if it is not just another religion, it is still a religion. And thus is as useful as a route to reinforce tyranny as any other, and did so from the fourth to the fifteenth century quite effectively. Indeed its effectiveness was one of its selling points, in the long slow spread of Christendom across post-Roman paleopagan Europe. (Where it ceased to be so, as in the Monophysite and Arian sections of Byzantium, it was replaced.)

Yet the values were also compatible with a better way, and in the Enlightenment it emerged. Christian men and women found worth in words penned by freethinkers. And the West went from an appendage of the great Islamic-Hindu-Sinic axis of the world, exploring desperately to seek nothing more than better access to real civilization... into the crowned center of the World, a height at which Europeans could imagine that the Earth turned about their peninsula and have little reason to question their fantasy.

It wasn't Christianity that built such. Left to itself Christianity would have continued its slow burn, consuming the Americas morsel by slow morsel in the same way it did Europe. (We note the lightning conquests of the Aztec and Incan Empires precisely because they were anomalous: no one else on the continent was organized enough to permit such a rapid turnover.)

It was the Enlightenment that made European capitalism superior to its Islamic competition; that unleashed the Industrial Revolution; that exploded capability into a new and incredible re-imagining of what civilization could be, not just was.

Catfish N. Cod said...

I haven't gotten as far as a blog, but I am tweeting more now. Three guesses as to my handle.

Lloyd Flack said...

Assange allways, to my mind, seemed to have a streak of narcissistic nihilism. His own words revealed how much he got off on attacking authority. His picture of those in authority came across as cynicism in the service of ego as well as justified suspicion. So I was not surprised when he hopped into bed with Trump and got all sancimomonious in his attacks on Clinton.

Steven Hammond said...

Treebeard said:

"There's an obvious factor that explains "moral" discrepancies involving Utah, Detroit, Chicago, the Deep South, the Northeast, etc. Hmm, I wonder what it could be? Can anyone with an advanced degree help me out here?"

If your implying that the "Honor Culture" associated with the South and inner city gangs may play a role in the violence, murder etc (and potentially the other benchmarks Dr Brin listed) in the South, Chicago and Detroit, but is absent from Utah and the Northeast, West Coast blue states etc, you may have a point.

Oh, but that wasn't your point was it? Maybe you should explain it to us and lay your cards on the table. (I can see them in that mirror behind you, BTW. )

Steven Hammond said...

Catfish N. Cod said:

"I haven't gotten as far as a blog, but I am tweeting more now. Three guesses as to my handle."

I could wager a guess as to your handle and may do a search to see if I'm right. As a non-Twitter person, though, I'm holding out for the blog. My social media viewing has dramatically decreased recently as I realized its negative effects on me
(just Facebook) and the Sisyphean task of using social media to change anyone's mind using FB. Oh, I know that social media can direct things in a mass action sort of way as the Russians proved, but as an individual, I don't want to be a molecule in a chemistry equation. I would like to have a conversation and maybe even a debate with someone or a group of people and believe I'm being listened to. I realize now how silly that thought is.

I also realized that "long-form" writing in whatever media, is what I search for and read--generally if it's free. I'm willing to hear the ins and outs of an argument along with the writer's personal experience, and, if the argument requires support, I like to (occasionally) delve into that. It's the way my mind works. Look, I read Stonekettle Station which is the loooongest of long-form. YMMV.

So...Get that blog up and running! :)

Steven Hammond said...

Addendum: I think I'm correct in guessing your handle. Also, that's a lot of tweets in short period of time in the last couple hours. Oh my. I suspect it's best to pace yourself. ;)

David Brin said...

Crum! Whatever vitamins Treebeard (note my use of his monicker) took during Christmas, stay on em, boy! You graduated from jibbering loony all the way to snarky/cynical-exaggerating… curiosity!

“Next step, you’ll even realize that your leading-tendentious questions all boil down to this paraphrasing:

“I fear oppressive, bullying, narrowminded, intolerant conformity-enforcers!

“I know that I was raised - along with almost all other Americans - suckling a steady diet of Suspicion of Authority (SoA) memes, largely spread by ‘liberal media.’ We all tend to reflexively fret about particular authorities, though — we see would-be Big Brothers coming from whatever direction we were raised to fear.

“And so, while my smart neighbors worry about rising feudalism … the one force that repressed all peoples and enforced conformity for 6000 years in 99% of societies… I reflexively must aim my SoA rage at liberals! Ew! Yuckey vile liberals!

“Deep inside, I know that the only force in all of human history that vigorously and successfully fought down oppressive, bullying, narrowminded, intolerant conformity-enforcement was… modern western liberalism. So how to justify my reflexive hatred?

“Simple! Accuse liberals of wanting the exact opposite of what they want! Accuse the world’s greatest opponents of oppressive, bullying, narrowminded, intolerant, conformity-enforcement of…

“…being oppressive, bullying, narrowminded, intolerant, conformity-enforcers!!!

“That’s the ticket!!”

Now let me conclude that attempted paraphrasing with this acknowledgement… there ARE bitter islands of irredentist leftism, even befuddled liberalism, wherein human nature overcomes modernist calm, evidence based reasonableness. I am known here for pointing those out, when I see them. Indeed, one of the worst crimes of the mad right is to have caused a massive upsurge in google searches for “Karl Marx.”

Read Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron” to see a far more cogent and brilliant portrayal of how the left could be as horrible as the right, doing some of the things that Treebeard denounces.

Every one of Treebeard’s recent snarl-salvoes is at least aimed in a general direction that splashes a little on a complaint that we might argue about…. if he weren’t a stark, jibbering loony. If he ever - once - admitted the primacy of feudalism and theocracy at conformity-enforcing oppression, then we might actually converse with him, instead of setting his postings up as examples for dissection.

TCB said...

@ Catfish: "Certainly we see that reactionary policies are en vogue throughout the West, if only because the Fascintern in Moscow is giving it performance-enhancing steroids."


OOOoooooh Fascintern! That is so on the money. I am stealing that one, hard.

Tim Wolter said...

David, you really have a thing about Mike Pence and Dominionism. The latter appears to be a concept that - like some esoteric element that can only exist fleetingly - is never seen in the normal world. (that is outside of progressive screeds).

But I want to be fair. And, a fair appraisal is that Pence does have a non trivial chance of being President some day.

So, could you be troubled to lay out the case that Pence is:

A: Dominionist (I mean, do they have Bible verse tattooed on their left wrist or something?)

B: Has demonstrated that his religious beliefs have compromised his duties as Congressman, Governor, VP.

Last time I put up a challenge I have to say, it seemed to me that you blew it off. I simply asked that my conspiracy theory be adjudicated as being as well documented as yours.

This time I am only asking for ANY documentation. Unnamed sources and/or reporters purporting to know his mind won't cut it. Quotes in context would be nice.

Or not. It's your show.

TW/Tacitus

TCB said...

Re: Treebeard, Locum and others of their ilk: I was just like you! When I was about 15. My old school friend once said, "Tom, I gotta ask you. You used to be the most conservative person I knew. Now you're the exact opposite. What changed?"

My answer: "Well, since then I learned a LOT. One of the most important things I learned is that practically nothing the conservatives tell you is the truth!"

I mean, really now. How can we possibly do whatever the right thing is, unless we're operating on some reasonably accurate information about the world we live in? If you want to fix a car that won't run, for instance, the first thing you do is find out what broke. Pretty obvious.

But these effing conservatives, always with the false version of reality, nothing they recommend ever comes out right... it just makes some really nasty people richer and more powerful...

I am a child of the Space Age. I was eleven when men went to the moon. Younger people may not understand how heady it was for a certain sort of person to see how much bigger and better this year's spaceship was than the one from even three years ago... I didn't expect ever to live on the Moon, but it seemed reasonable that my children might, if they wanted to... and their children might build cities on Mars... it was as if a window had opened to a world of possibility...

...and it was the motherfucking right wingers like Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes who slammed that window shut.

Now I am not even sure my grandchildren will grow up. Thanks to greedhead scum pushing their fracking, greenhousing, dominionizing, strip-minded nihilism. It almost feels like Jonestown with nuclear weapons. Masada with anthrax.

But... perhaps this is just what happens to advancing tech civilizations on planets. Maybe their competitive/hoarding/short-thinking impulses overcome their cooperative/sharing/long-thinking capacity, and so all end in Great Silence.

The death worshippers can lie to themselves, but not to me. Jesus will not arrive at the last moment and wipe your ass for you. FYI.

LarryHart said...

Steven Hammond:

My social media viewing has dramatically decreased recently as I realized its negative effects on me
(just Facebook) and the Sisyphean task of using social media to change anyone's mind using FB.


To my daughter and her teenage friends, Facebook is already an old-fogey's thing. They use Instagram and SnapChat, and even that might be "so two years ago", because I can't even keep track.

TCB said...

@ Tim Wolter, here's a recent New YOrker article The Danger of President Pence.

Read it, or don't. I ween that you will reject the New Yorker as a "liberal source" and therefore not acceptable. But for the record I will mention that the New Yorker's fact checkers are widely considered second to none.

A claim which can not reasonably be made by Fox News, Breitbart, the Weekly Standard, The Daily Stormer, or whatever source you probably have in your daily feed.

LarryHart said...

Steven Hammond spoke of Stonekettle Station:

http://www.stonekettle.com/


The money was all appropriated for the top in the hopes that it would trickle down to the needy. Mr. Hoover was an engineer. He knew that water trickles down. Put it uphill and let it go and it will reach the driest little spot. But he didn’t know that money trickled up. Give it to the people at the bottom and the people at the top will have it before night, anyhow. But it will at least have passed through the poor fellows hands. They saved the big banks, but the little ones went up the flue.
-- Will Rogers, Column 518: And Here’s How It All Happened, The Tulsa Daily World, 12/5/1932


And I thought I've been singing in the shower about money naturally "trickling" up rather than down. Will Rogers saw that back in 1932! He even mentions that while the money ends up at the top either way, infusion at the bottom causes it to do useful work on its way up, whereas infusion at the top simply bypasses the work.

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter:

Last time I put up a challenge I have to say, it seemed to me that you blew it off. I simply asked that my conspiracy theory be adjudicated as being as well documented as yours.


I don't perceive that Dr Brin is blowing you off, but the two of you are having separate conversations. IIRC, your challenge was accepted, but the result was "Naw, there's no there there." You presented evidence that some FBI agents thought Trump was a dangerous moron. I don't know that anyone disputed that fact. We differ on what to conclude from that. You presume that the fact leads to the conclusion of an anti-Trump conspiracy within the FBI, whereas I presume the fact leads to the conclusion that at least some FBI agents can see their hand in front of their face. They think Trump is a dangerous moron because he is one.

Likewise, the complaint against President Obama and the IRS "unfairly" targeting Tea Party groups for claiming tax deductions that are reserved for non-political organizations. You see an unfair targeting of the Tea Party where I see the Tea Party complaining when they get caught violating the rules. Somehow, "fairness" is taken to mean that liberals should discretely ignore rule violations by conservatives because rules are meant to constrain liberals, not conservatives. So calling conservatives on their violations is in itself some sort of wrongdoing on the liberals part.

I've probably gone too far in arguing the specifics, but my point boiled down is this:
Your tiff with Dr Brin is not about documentation of facts. It's about the conclusions to be drawn from those facts.

TCB said...

Audit indicates liberal nonprofits also got extra IRS scrutiny

Quote: "While the audit released Thursday by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration doesn't discuss the political leanings of the additional groups it identified, the criteria used by the IRS to flag groups based on their names or policy positions included left-leaning organizations and causes like “ACORN Successors,” “Green Energy,” “Medical Marijuana,” and “Progressive.”"

The IRS were merely doing their job to make sure nonprofit designation wasn't being used as camouflage for scams or impostures. For some reason, it was just the Tea Party and conservative groups who got their pantaloons in a wet knot over this.

Steven Hammond said...

LarryHart said:

And I thought I've been singing in the shower about money naturally "trickling" up rather than down. Will Rogers saw that back in 1932! He even mentions that while the money ends up at the top either way, infusion at the bottom causes it to do useful work on its way up, whereas infusion at the top simply bypasses the work.

You're in good company when you can quote an idea of yours being originally published by Will Rogers, Larry! ;)

Whenever I think I've come up with a new or original idea, I do a Google search. I've been burned before. I honestly though "Kaitlyn" was a pretty unusual and distinctive name back in 1992 with my first daughter. ;) Hoo boy!

David Brin said...

Catfish N. Cod, I believe that in the body of my posting I disdained that article. In any event, I admit that I sometimes link to things based upon their first few paragraphs. Mea culpa. I need that copying kiln!

Get your blog up. We’re all looking forward to it. I’ll announce it, if you like. Or not, if you’d prefer a low-pressure start.

David Brin said...

“Of the 10 least religious states, none is among the 10 most dangerous. Of the 10 most religious states, only Utah is among the 10 that are least hospitable to homicide"

Let me add that Utahns and Mormons are in close to open revolt against Trumpism.

LarryHart said...

Jim Wright on Stonekettle Station:

Rich people being richer does not create jobs. Quod Erat Demonstrandum. This is true no matter how many times you care to run the experiment and after Reagan this should be obvious to even the most obtuse, like my friend Shane up above.


Is "obvious to even the most obtuse" a more commonly-used expression that I think, or is Jim Wright quoting The Minstrel from "Batman" here?

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin to Catfish:

Get your blog up. We’re all looking forward to it. I’ll announce it, if you like. Or not, if you’d prefer a low-pressure start.


If you (Catfish) ever do start a blog, I'll be a regular there. And that doesn't require leaving this one either, Dr Brin. I can do two things.


Let me add that Utahns and Mormons are in close to open revolt against Trumpism.


If Orrin Hatch doesn't run again, Mitt Romney might well win that seat. He'd be a Republican, but not a Trump toady like most of them are.

At some point, I might have to revise the hashtag to #ThereArentVeryManyGoodRepublicans. But I'm not holding my breath. :)

LarryHart said...

Steven Hammond:

Whenever I think I've come up with a new or original idea, I do a Google search. I've been burned before.


Well, I wasn't trying to prove originality. I've been asserting what seems obvious to me which is the diametric opposite of present day accepted wisdom. I was glad to see that my view was already articulated back when my father was two years old.

I honestly though "Kaitlyn" was a pretty unusual and distinctive name back in 1992 with my first daughter. ;) Hoo boy!


I had the opposite problem. We named a daughter Laurel (ending with an l) without realizing that half of all female babies that year were named Lauren (ending with an n).

Tim Wolter said...

TCB

Why would I dismiss the New Yorker? They have an editorial orientation, sure, but they are open about it. If you have your wits about you it is possible to factor in this orientation when you read various sources of information. None of the sources you mention are in my "daily feed" although I suppose I have read something in the Weekly Standard every few months.

The internet is a difficult format in which to "read" people, so I shall charitably assume you simply don't know me all that well.

The New Yorker article is long and collates material from several other accounts that I had read before posting. It does not mention Dominionism (ok, truth in advertising I only got about 80% through it). It does say a lot about him being cozy with well healed donors. But I don't have a Pavlovian response to works like Soros! or Koch!. Pence has some past and current positions that you, and for that matter I, don't agree with. But I am not convinced that he is a creepy cultist.

Got any more?

Tacitus

Anonymous said...


Advanced degrees make many people stupider and Treebeard is too polite to state the obvious.

Steve Chapman's article in the Chicago Tribune states ““Last year, Bible-believing Louisiana had the highest murder rate in the country. Moore’s Alabama came in third. Prayer-drenched Mississippi had the sixth-worst. You’re much safer when surrounded by skeptics, adding that "The irreligious state of Massachusetts had the fifth-lowest murder rate, with only 17 percent as many homicides per capita as Louisiana. Godless New Hampshire and Maine had the nation’s lowest murder rates".

According to worldatlas.com, religious skepticism does not correlate with murder rate:

US States With The Largest Relative African American population per 2010 US Census
1 District of Columbia 50.7% African American
2 Mississippi 37.3% African American
3 Louisiana 32.4% African American
4 Georgia 31.4% African American

Any guesses about the racial demographics of Maine & Massachusetts?

Anonymous said...


Census Finds Least Diverse Part of Nation
http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=93608&page=1

Steven Hammond said...

Anonymous said:
Anonymous said...

Advanced degrees make many people stupider and Treebeard is too polite to state the obvious....

According to worldatlas.com, religious skepticism does not correlate with murder rate:

US States With The Largest Relative African American population per 2010 US Census
1 District of Columbia 50.7% African American
2 Mississippi 37.3% African American
3 Louisiana 32.4% African American
4 Georgia 31.4% African American

Any guesses about the racial demographics of Maine & Massachusetts?


So you're playing Treebeard's cards for him now? Laying down the "race card" for him are you? Like I said, his cards were obvious and I saw them in the mirror behind him.

Treebeard is obviously afraid to lay out his argument explicitly which doesn't surprise me. (Did he enlist you to take the hit?) And you! You mister "Anonymous", you're a little bit of a chicken shit yourself, aren't you? Cluck, cluck..

Ah, well. I still think my honor culture hypothesis is worth looking into, but why don't you racists let me know the statistics on violent crime for just whites in the South vs whites in the NE? (Murders committed per 100,000 will do) I haven't looked this up, but I'll just bet it correlates with Dr Brin's thoughts. I'm willing to be educated. I'd ask for a wager but I'm sure you'd cheat or disappear.

LarryHart said...

Stealing from a comment under Jim Wright's latest:


Reminds me of that meme going around. "Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it. Those who DO study history are doomed to watch as everyone else repeats it."

David Brin said...

Mentioned in the recent King Arthur movie, Pelagius pushed the last great effort among Christians to restist the horrific doctrine of Original Sin, under which God is depicted as a vengeful-unforgiving-cruel lunatic. "Pelagianism is the belief that original sin did not taint human nature and that mortal will is still capable of choosing good or evil without special divine aid. This theological theory is named after the British monk Pelagius (354–420 or 440), although he denied, at least at some point in his life, many of the doctrines associated with his name. Pelagius was identified as an Irishman by Saint Jerome.[1] Pelagius taught that the human will, as created with its abilities by God, was sufficient to live a sinless life, although he believed that God's grace assisted every good work. Pelagianism has come to be identified with the view (whether taught by Pelagius or not) that human beings can earn salvation by their own efforts."

Pelagius rejected the Augustinian concept of grace.[2] According to his opponents, Pelagius taught that moral perfection was attainable in this life without the assistance of divine grace through human free will. Augustine contradicted this by saying that perfection was impossible without grace because we are born sinners with a sinful heart and will. The Pelagians charged Augustine with departing from the accepted teaching (e.g.: John 8:11) of the Apostles and the Bible, demonstrating that the doctrine of original sin amounted to Manichaeism, which taught that the flesh was in itself sinful (and thus denied that Jesus came in the flesh). This charge would have carried added weight since contemporaries knew that Augustine had himself been a Manichaean layman before converting to Christianity. Augustine also taught that a person's salvation comes solely through a free gift, the efficacious grace of God, but that this was a gift that one had no free choice to accept or refuse

Another interesting thing that jibes with what I've been told by Moromons: "Mormon philosopher Sterling M. McMurrin, argued that "[t]he theology of Mormonism is completely Pelagian."[32] Mormon theology teaches that the Atonement of Jesus Christ has overcome the effects of "original sin" for all mankind."

David Brin said...

Tim… here is where 13 years ago (!) I addressed the neoromanticism that is manifest in extremis by dominionism. http://davidbrin.com/nonfiction/neoromantics.html

Anecdotally, Samantha Bee sent a reporter to a recent dominionist conference (packed!) and asked person after person why they supported Israel so fervently and all said it was to “hasten the end times.” And if you parse what that entails… the horrible death followed by eternal torment of every Israeli Jew who doesn’t - at exactly the right moment - convert… you’ll understand why many of us pray for the continued health of Al Aqsa Mosque.

David Brin said...


In another blog from last May I point out:
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2017/05/chaos-and-disturbances-in-oval-office.html

Blog commentaror Peter Olotka wrote in with the following tabulation of Dominionists in the Trump Administration -- all  of them recruited and vetted by Trump’s Dominionist Vice President:

Vice President  Mike Pence  
HUD Secretary  Ben Carson
Education Secretary  Betsy DeVos
Energy Secretary  Rick Perry
Attorney General  Jeff Sessions
CIA Director  Mike Pompeo
Agriculture Secretary  Sonny Perdue
HHS Secretary  Tom Price
EPA Director:  Scott Pruitt


Note that Trump had never met most of the Cabinet before he was President. Then, recently added:  Voter Fraud Commission: Kris Kobach, Secretary of State in bankrupt Kansas. And rumored to be on the shortlist for FBI Director: John Cornyn. 

Other powerful members of the cult include Steve Bannon & Kelly Ann Conway. Both are on the Council for National Policy a secretive Dominionist organization which has been planning a US government take over for decades. Kelly Ann is on the executive committee: Earlier notable (raving) dominionists included Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman. There have also long been rumors – backed up by investigative reporting – of a cabal of Dominionist Air Force Generals who are high in the nuclear chain of command.  (The other services have resisted this infiltration.)

I have certainly written about the Dominionist  frenzy.  My own take is that this movement - along with almost every other aspect of this debacle - is driven not so much by religious faith as by:

1- The needs of a swathe of oligarchs (not all billionaires, but a lot of them) who want to lock in feudal social order...

2- Hatred of intellect. Of all the smartypants city/university types. This is why Hillary Clinton miscalculated, thinking DT's own words would bury him. He rose up in the esteem of the confederate rank and file, each time he infuriated us; that was his chief attractive trait and remains so.  

This means his bulwark of support, the untouchable core of maybe 1/3 of the population, will not be moved by our complaints over crazy stuff. Every seething yelp we emit goes straight to their pleasure centers.

David Brin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Brin said...

Let's be smart here. While anonymous is clearly a racist pig... the raw logic of his parry is not in itself something we can reject, out of hand. But racist-pig assertions must bear steep burden of proof. And in this case there are blatant reasons to doubt any of the correlations he implies.

Let me repeat: If we subtract outliers like Utah and Detroit & Chicago, name a metric of moral and healthy living that is not worse in Red America, from teen sex, STD and pregnancy rates to obesity, dropouts, divorce and domestic violence, gambling and so on. Name... one... exception. Other than abortion which is a disagreement over fundamentals.

This challenge has been out there for many years, and never once has anyone done a statistical analysis of white vs black rates of these vices within Mississippi, whether overall or county by county. If this were applicable, would these racist pigs have done the actual work of backing up their case? That white Alabamans are virtuous, clean, abstemious, peaceful, respectful, slim and all finish high school and their black neighbors are so horrid that they drag the averages down into the sewer? There is one reason none of the racist-pig community has done this...

... because they can't. And they hope to wriggle out of this corner as they always do, with an assertion. An incantation. As worked for the first couple of years of the Phase Four (1860s) Civil War.

But we're onto you horrid traitors and moronic lickspittle lackeys of plantation lords. You have driven away every single fact-using caste, including all the scientists and the so-called "deep-staters" of the FBI, military, intel communities...

...so tell us how that is supposed to work out for you?

Alfred Differ said...

@Tim Wolter | If you start with the Wikipedia page for Michael Pence and follow some of the roughly 300 references, you'll get a feel for his positions as reported by however many people try to defend the integrity of that page. Combine that with another page on 'dominionism' and the factions within it and one comes away with a description of Pence that is at least an 'Integrationist.' Add on top of that the people he helps pick for Trump's cabinet and other top positions and one could easily interpret the last year as the work of a 'Kingdom Now' adherent. I'm skeptical of that last step because of Pence's own words about his continued respect for his Catholic past, but it seems pretty obvious that his connection to that past is somewhat one-sided.

His inclination to dismiss facts derived from science is the most damning, however, and he has a long track-record of this. Add it up and it is obvious his own self-description catch phrase (I'm a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order) is more than just a political tool. He means it. While I'm not convinced he wants to bring about the End Times, I think it is non-controversial to argue that he wants us to be a Christian nation.

We've always had a segment of our nation who wanted that formal recognition, so this isn't anything new. Sometimes they produce coherent behavior and change the nation. Quite a few abolitionists wanted this, so I can't argue they are a plague upon us. However... what they want will lead to a great deal of internal conflict if they are given it even if it doesn't evolve hastening the End Times.

TCB said...

Mike Pence Doesn't Agree With Science

5 Real Things Mike Pence Has Said About Climate Change

Indiana's Chilling New Anti-Abortion Law is One of Nation's Worst

David Brin said...

"Advanced degrees make many people stupider and Treebeard is too polite to state the obvious...."

Assertions and anecdotes and aphorisms is all they have. PROVE this insane assertion!

Yes, there are anecdotally thousands of highly educated nitwits. If you call that "many," out of 50 million American college graduates.

Dig it. We all know that:

"Just because someone is smart and knows a lot, that doesn't automatically make them wise."

It's true. But in the same way that Suspicion of Authority is wholesome, till it metasticizes, this true statement has been twisted into something cancerous:

"Any and all people who are smart and know a lot, are therefore automatically unwise."

The first statement is true and we all know it. The second is so insanely wrong that anyone believing it is hence a stark, jibbering loony. And yet, the latter is now a core catechism of the confederacy, because they have been allowed to leave it implicit.

Of course, blatantly, the average person who has studied earnestly and tried to understand is wiser than those who deliberately chose to remain incurious and ignorant. When cornered, even the most vehement alt-righter admits that. But cornering them takes effort and - above all - careful parsing of the meme. It is a logical corner they’ve painted themselves into! But their memes are slippery.

Hatred of universities and smart people, and people with knowledge and skill now extends from the war on science to journalism, teaching, medicine, economics, civil servants… and lately the “deep state” conspiring villains of the FBI, the intelligence agencies and the U.S. military officer corps. This is bedlam. It is insanity that serves one purpose, to discredit any “elites” who might stand in the way of a return to feudalism by the super rich, which was the pattern of 6000 years that America rebelled against.

The Confederacy has always been a tool to restore feudalism. only this time it has done what it could not do in the 1860s. Taken Washington.

Tony Fisk said...

If Dominion theology is a movement to establish a nation in accordance with one's (Christian) religious beliefs, then I think someone who defines their foreign policy in terms of Genesis 12:3 can be described as a Dominionist.

It may be open to question whether Pence represents the movement's extremes described by David but, given his political achievements to date, it would be risky not to assume it.

Slim Moldie said...

Dr. Brin I still think Pence could go down in Trump’s wash.

Am curious if you or anybody here knew if Dominionism was on Joe Haldeman’s radar when he wrote “Forever Peace.” The hammer of god cult going after scientist trying to get peer review doesn’t seem quite as far fetched.

Humanize your enemies by inducing them to experience empathy.

Peace out

Tim H. said...

Found the entire Will Rogers column:
http://wiredpen.com/2015/01/30/will-rogers-trickle-economics/
I feel it's important to remember that the goal of "Contemporary conservatism" is to undo the works of FDR to the limits of their ability, with little regard to collateral damage, even the risk of our nation becoming a tertiary actor on the World stage, as long as it's run on "Conservative" principles, they're good with that.
It's well to remember that a twentieth century without FDR might've had an understanding with 1930's Fascists, leading to a very different WW2.

Susan Watson said...

A connection between gun rights, a particularly virulent sort of evangelist Christian Protestantism and the Southeast States of the U.S. can be found in the experience of displaced Scots Covenanters. They wanted to replace princes, bishops and parliaments with a sort of Christian Sharia operated out of local parishes. The state, for its part, kept trying to impose hierarchical religious conformity. Despite early confiscation of weapons there were centuries of more-or-less continuous rebellion in southwest Scotland culminating in “the killing years” of 1681-1691. The state shot, hanged and transported the trouble-makers who fled to the colonies for decades afterwards.

The drafters of the American Constitution were acutely aware of this history and of how religion could go wrong; They wanted it understood right up front that no one church could impose itself on the state, and no state could tell people how to worship. These had to be separate spheres. And keep your hands off a man’s hagbut, dang-gummit!

TCB said...

@ Susan Watson, also the drafters would have known about the wars of the Reformation and the Thirty Years' War, a period from Martin Luther until the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, which is over a century of bloodletting all over Europe over the matter of which church would be politically privileged in any given area or country. And that was only 140 years before the Constitution, not ancient history for them.

It's fair to say that church/state separation was probably one of their top half dozen worries for the new nation, and unlike slavery, it was one all the drafters could largely agree on.

Alfred Differ said...

I don't see the 30 year war as one to decide the matter of which church would be politically privileged. That was ONE of the things to be decided, but that was because the dynasts who financed and fought the war used their church as justification. It was really a war among dynasts mostly fought in the lands of the petty princes of Germany.

Yes. Religion certainly got things going, but that could be related to the fact that two of the Hapsburgs were religious zealots and the trigger event looked to upset the apple cart for one of them. The Protestants had their own zealots later while both sides had their religious pretenders.

One thing that IS clear about that period, though, is the body count beat WWI in percentage terms. It sucked to be a German local no matter what side one favored.

The concept of the modern nation-state and the international rules we occasionally respect was born in Westphalia in 1648, but I suspect the separation of church and state our Framers preferred was simply a recognition (possibly unrealized in its depth) that zealots of all stripes lost in these conflicts. Pyrrhic victories aren't of much use to people who expect to improve our lots in THIS life.

Alfred Differ said...

I've had a few months to think about this now and I've come to a decision.
I'll write it out here for the sake of putting on the record.

I'd rather have Pence as President than Trump.

Steven Hammond said...

@ Susan Watson:

I've always thought the role, and influence of the Covenanters, or at least those of Covenanter heritage, in American history has not been well appreciated, or especially sorted out. Those on the Southern side of the Mason-Dixon line have recently emphasized the influence of the Scots-Irish on their Southern heritage, but it was, perhaps, in the North in the times of the American Revolution where their greatest influence was felt. Of course, Princeton University was founded as a Presbyterian University (the religion of the Covenanters) to educate ministers (largely of Scots-Irish descent) and the Revolutionary War was even seen (primarily by the British) as a "Presbyterian War." THE PRESBYTERIAN REBELLION?

I think the founders were definitely prescient in separating church and state at that time, but it's interesting that currently, the threat from "Dominionists" exists here in America, while in the UK, there is no similar threat. It's also interesting how the existence of a state church in the UK is so non-consequential to them here in the 21st Century, but where avoiding religious conflict was thought of specifically in the founding of the nation, it remains a huge concern. I have my own thoughts on this but I wonder if others might as well?

I have a bit of an interest in the history of Scotland based on personal heritage which has to do with some DNA and... If anyone's interested, I'm happy to expound, but family history is not typically interesting to others I realize--even those involving DNA. :)

I also have a particular enjoyment in reading Sir Walter Scott and his novel Old Mortality is one of his best and is probably the best fictional portrayal of the Covenanters and the "Killing Time." I suspect Susan Watson has an opinion about the book as well.

Steven Hammond said...

@ Susan Watson:

Didn't mean to imply that I disrespected your opinion. My comment at the end was more of a "I suspect Susan Watson who appears to be well-read and interested in the covenanters will have read Old Mortality and have something worthwhile to say regarding its historical or literary merit."

I really hate that we can't edit comments here. :(

Zepp Jamieson said...

Treebeard: Your Counterpunch article was interesting, right up until the author blew his crediblity out of the water with this: "Fortunately, just in the nick of time, the ruling classes and their media mouthpieces rolled out the Russian Propaganda story. The Washington Post (whose owner’s multimillion dollar deal with the CIA, of course, has absolutely no effect on the quality of its professional journalism) led the charge with this McCarthyite smear job, legitimizing the baseless allegations of some random website and a think tank staffed by charlatans like this “Russia expert,”who appears not to speak a word of Russian or have any other “Russia expert” credentials, but is available both for television and Senate Intelligence Committee appearances."

Yeah, no. The "Russian thing" was already getting a lot of attention by the late spring of 2016, and even some of Wikileaks' most staunch supporters were beginning to ask if the organisation had become suborned. I notice the agitprop crowd from Saint Petersburg have been flogging the notion that the "Russian thing" didn't crop up until after Trump was elected, but it's simply untrue on the face of it, and easily disproven.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Afred Differ wrote:
"I'd rather have Pence as President than Trump."

Yes, and I agree. Yes, he's more competent than Trump which makes him more dangerous, but he is a coward, and his religious mania is going to be extremely distasteful to a lot of people.
The one reason to keep Trump is the longer he is weaving his magic on Twitter and from Mar-a-lago, the worse the Republicans will do in the elections next year. But counterbalancing that is the fact that Trump is an unstable authoritarian, perhaps the most dangerous personality type to hold power of any sort. Just tonight, he told the NYT that he has "an absolute right to do whatever [I] want with the Department of Justice."

Yes, Pence is dangerous. But Trump is far worse.

Zepp Jamieson said...

" irredentist "
Now THAT'S a valuable word to know. Not as scattershot as 'reactionary' but at the heart and soul of much reactionary thought in the United States.

David Brin said...

It is difficult to absolutely prove "collusion" (though DT's own "Russia, if your listening..." should from the podium was pure treason.)

So the goppers concentrate on "collusion" and distract away the pure fact that the Spectre-Smersh guys WANTED Donald Trump to be president and busted their asses to make it so.

Robert said...

I am looking forward to seeing Dr. Brin's interpretation of his least favorite muppet with the latest Star Wars film. And for that matter his views on the failure of the Jedi order and the like. It's often good for an insightful chuckle and interpretation of the series. :)

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

I'd rather have Pence as President than Trump.


Zepp Jamieson:

Yes, Pence is dangerous. But Trump is far worse.


I think I agree as well. Trump essentially commands an intimidating force of zealots which apparently cows even his detractors among Republicans into supporting him. The history of conversions from (Republican) opponents to sycophants really does rival that of Asimov's "Mule". Pence would at worst be Lord Stettin, whom the Foundation easily overcame through conventional means. The Mule was the existential threat.

Mind you, I'm not pushing for Democrats to try to impeach Trump until there is a reasonable possibility of succeeding. The worst outcome would be a failed attempt to "kill the king" as it were.

Robert said...

And that is why Pence is such a threat. Because he seems so much more reasonable and decent than Trump.

You know what Trump wants most of all?

To live.

You know what Pence wants most of all?

For the Earth to be consumed in a ball of nuclear fire so that the Second Coming of Christ can happen and all the sinners burn forever while he and his Chosen Brethren can eat popcorn and be entertained by our screams.

For all that Trump is an existential threat to LGBT+ people, the environment, the economy, and our civil rights, he is still better than Pence in that he doesn't want to die. Likely because he doesn't believe in an afterlife.

Rob H.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Pence already controls an outsized portion of the Oval Office's domestic authority.

Brin is right to oppose impeachment, but for the wrong reasons. Impeachment would effectively end the Mueller investigation; Republicans would demand that as a price for impeaching their own president. But the Mueller investigation has already deeply entangled Pence, and there's good reason to suppose that Paul Ryan will be implicated, as well. A sudden Republican move toward impeachment (or the 25th amendment) means that the Republicans, as always, are willing to save their own asses, and to hell with the country. So when that move comes (and I expect it before the end of March because they don't want the mid-terms to be a complete rout), it means they are cutting their losses at our expense.

Tim Wolter said...

Guys, I'm sorry. Much as I appreciate and in many cases like the denizens of Contrary Brin the rhetoric here can be vile. I despair of this community at times. A couple of examples. From a DB post he linked back to:

"Those who express hand-rubbing yearnings for the world to tumble into armageddon, as soon as possible -- in the BoR's forecast bloodbath for all-but-a-very-few.."

And from Robert - who I consider a good guy - just above:

"You know what Pence wants most of all?

For the Earth to be consumed in a ball of nuclear fire so that the Second Coming of Christ can happen and all the sinners burn forever while he and his Chosen Brethren can eat popcorn and be entertained by our screams."

Look, you are entitled to your opinions. But think before you post. I'm here to tell you that the people whose votes matter most to our country's future, the "ostriches" as you call them, the independents, the moderates, me for instance, regard this kind of talk as bat shit crazy and perhaps an incentive to violence.

But, but, what if it's true? I consider myself to have an open mind and am constantly saying "show me more!". Now of course we have different perspectives. Viva la difference! But the evidence put forward when I said "show me where Pence comes anywhere close to being a frothing religious nut" has been in sum total:

Some links documenting that he said some stupid things about the risks of tobacco.
Assorted laws he supported that would have made abortion more difficult in Indiana (ne'er ya mind that you, I and he knew they would not pass SC muster) and best of all, OGH's mentioning that a blogger waved around a Tailgunner Joe list of "Dominionists in the Trump cabinet!!!!"

You are all quite up front encouraging me to see reason and to change my ways. I suspect this is heartfelt. So let me return the favor. Dank conspiracy memes and making any Republican either Stupid, Racist, or a member/member unit of the Caucasian Illuminati is going to relegate the Progressive world view to a couple of grumbly coastal enclaves. This process is already well advanced.

I spend most of my time doing things far more useful to society than typing on the internet. Of course that is a broad and inclusive category. But I ask, and ask this seriously, why should I come here and go through this cafeteria line of nonsense?

You have gone past preaching to the choir you are now just cursing at your ipods!

T/Tacitus
whose atypical reciprocal grumpiness is in part due to an impending root canal.



Robert said...

Tacitus, Mike Pence has called for allowing widescale discrimination against LGBT+ and has stated he is a Christian first - and his brand of Christianity is one that abandoned Christ's message of love for your fellow men because anyone calling for treating LGBT+ people as substandard is NOT someone following a message of love. That in and of itself along with the fact he politically has shown a complete disregard for LGBT+ people is reason enough for me to want him out with Trump. His Dominionist beliefs are also documented. So... I apologize if you look at Pence as someone who is far better than Trump but for someone like me? I see an existential threat who would push through his agenda because he isn't Trump.

Even if he didn't destroy this world, even if he just pushed through his anti-LGBT agenda, I would suffer under Pence, as would a lot of other people.

Rob H.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Tacitus said, "why should I come here and go through this cafeteria line of nonsense?"

Are you asking us to refrain from opining on matters that you don't want to discuss. Many of the users here, including Robert, Larry Hart and Doctor Brin, along with myself, regard Dominionism as a real and immediate threat. I even have an upcoming novel that has, as one of the main plot lines, that Dominionists utterly destroy the United States, turning it into a vicious, Saudi-Arabia like theocracy. Dominionists are damned by their own positions, and Mike Pence is a Dominionist.
I would encourage you to stay and debate with us about this, but don't try to tell us we shouldn't talk about it because it offends you. That's not going to work.

Tim Wolter said...

Zepp

'been coming here for over a decade, so I've demonstrated considerable staying power. And I have said you can and should state your opinions. I am also saying that they are out there quite a bit. And that if you expect them to convince others you are going to be disappointed. Just don't also be surprised.

Having shrugged off the recent insinuation that The Daily Stormer must be in my newsfeed I think my sense of humor and dermal thickness have again been demonstrated!

Robert, no need to apologize. As I said I respect you and your beliefs. Discrimination towards anyone is ugly. I simply find the leap from cake baking to planet baking to be a quantum leap.

To be clear, if the term Dominionist means anything at all I'd say the allegations that Pence is one have about as much heft to them as Obama The Secret Muslim.

I do find the increasingly rare non pol discussions here to be quite enjoyable.

T/Tac

Slim Moldie said...

Tactics,

While my posts are infrequent and mostly incoherent typo parties—as a diner at this cafeteria, “cyber duffs?” I get indigestion frequently. Brin has been discussing and substantiating his arguments on Dominionism for about a year. He includes links. If you are unwilling to read them. Try a simple “Pence Dominionism” google search and 10 minutes of reading. Now David is going to have to copy paste what he’s been saying again and again and again...

Zepp Jamieson said...

Dominionism has a clear and distinct meaning: It means a belief that God has dominion over everything, including the Constitution.
Comparing Pence's dominionist beliefs to the crackpot theory that Obama was a Moslem is more of the false equivalence that the right so loves. Pence has a long and sordid history of arguing that Biblical law has primacy over secular law (http://www.greanvillepost.com/2016/11/25/mike-pence-dominionist-the-next-president-of-the-united-states/ as one example).

Now, as for opinions expressed: it's very rare that I convince anyone online to change their minds, and that's true of just about everyone expressing an opinion. It's very satisfying when it does happen. As for being 'out there', that's an opinion. Any congruity between the validity of an opinion and 'common sense' is often just a happy coincidence.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

You know what Trump wants most of all?

To live.


Not quite. What Trump wants most of all is to win.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Good grief. Being a Dominionist does *not* imply being a member of a death-cult dedicated to nuclear Armageddon.

It *does* mean that you believe that the Constitution is subordinate to Divine Will, and not in a benign way. If you believe that the Constitution is subordinate to the Laws of Physics, your belief is neither completely wrong nor dangerous. If you believe that the creation and maintenance of the Constitution is a blessing granted by God, as the Mormons do, you're probably fine. But if you believe that the Constitution's words and intent can only be properly interpreted through the lens of evangelical Christianism, then you are a Dominionist, and a threat to the Republic.

Roy Moore's belief was no different than millions of others around the country; it's a large part of why he garnered 650,000 votes, about half the usual haul of Republicans in Alabama, despite being one of the most intolerable candidates in the history of the Republic. Note that there are 3.3 million registered voters, and 2.1 million showed up in 2016; only 30% of the likely voters, and 20% of those eligible, actually cast ballots for the man. And that's one of the highest percentages in the country. Dominionism is very much a minority... but it's a sizable enough one to cause trouble.

The Republicans' great fear was that Roy Moore would be elected and start focusing national attention on Dominionism. Whether you agree with it or not, Dominionism as an issue is the last thing Republicans want: the proponents want to stay in stealth, and the others know it's a losing proposition. (Not to mention that he was going to be a troublemaker in many other ways as well.)

Kal Kallevig said...

Tacitus,

Have you ever sat through one of the Pentecostal hell-fire and brimstone sermons. No need for conspiracy theories. You could start by reading Revelations, and then find out how many supposedly sane believers believe it is right around the corner. And they do pray for it, regularly.

john fremont said...

Long time lurker, first comment.

Steven, I find it interesting that one of the main Christian Reconstruction authors, Gary North, dedicated his 1989 book, Political Polytheism to the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America "who for 190 years have smelled a rat in Philadelphia."
North lays out in that book that the Constitutional Convention was a coup by the Founders by removing religious tests oaths from public office and of course the ratification of the First Amendment. The Constitution has no reference to a deity where as the Articles of Confederation did. The delegates at the Constitutional Convention drew from the Roger Williams and the Rhode Island colony in which the requirement of religious oaths was antithetical to the Anabaptist doctrine of soul freedom. Rhode Island was settled mainly by Anabaptists.

locumranch said...


This tread's attack on the Dominionism Chrisitian variant takes liberal hypocrisy to a whole new level because you attackers would be the first to scream 'bloody-murder' if anyone else attempted to tar, feather & attack any Judaic, Islamic or Feministic variant in the same way that you attack Dominionism.

Slap a yellow cross on the garments of these evil Dominonists & herd them off to camps, why don't you?

For shame!! You're no better than those crackpots who prattle on about the baby-eating 'Protocols of the Elder of Zion', excepting that you've replaced those elderly evil non-Christian Zionists with those evil Pro-Zionist Christian Dominionist elders.

Instead, you could be co-opting the Dominionism belief system to support your own agenda, assuming that you possessed the least bit of imagination, as in "The Final Days are upon Us so let's build spaceships for Self-Rapturous purposes in order to meet Our Lord, Savior & Deus Irae halfway because it has always been said that God helps those who helps themselves".

The liberal progressive double-standard is alive & well because those lib-progs can scream 'race, gender & religious discrimination' all day long but the white christian conservative can NOT, lest they be labelled the most vile of "-ists".


Best

David Brin said...

Tim: sorry if the language level offends. But seriously, your examples aren’t very strong and fall far short of trollery.

Consider three possibilities:
(1) We *know we are exaggerating the risk to our children, nation and civilization, and are thus spouting off in excess.
(2) We are exaggerating the risk to our children and civilization, but are *sincerely mistaken.
(3) We are *right in perceiving a grotesque and evil existential threat to our children, nation and civilization.

In case #3, not one thing we’ve said is inappropriate. In fact, calm decorum is increasingly in-apropos. Hey, I'negotiate calmly, if negotiation weren't dead. I often speak against exaggerators or splitters of the left who would demonize and drive away “ostrich” folks who will always be baseline "conservative." We must welcome them! But in a war for our childrens’ lives, that requires vigor.

You don't yank an ostrich out of its head-hole of denial with an axe! But you don't beg with lullabies, either.

In case #2, please prod us awake with evidence. I have willingly pointed to rare examples where the Republican position is better - e.g. canceling the insanely vile preference for family reunions, in legal immigration. But it appears to me that 90% of confederate policies are aimed directly at harming America, destroying our alliances, science, social cohesion and influence in the world. Prove us wrong with counter-evidence! Our language may moderate.

#1 is simply untrue.

Ah well, good luck in the chair!! Dental surgery is one of the Boomer curses! Our parents gave up and spent retirement sleeping with their choppers in a glass, next to the bed. Our kids panic over a filling! We get to keep our teeth at great pain and expense. Sigh.

——
LH and others:
I’ve made plain my scaling of Pence as vastly worse. DT is well-perceived by our professionals who are on high alert and who might be soothed into relaxation by the apocalypse cultist Pence, whose White House would clamp down utter discipline. Also, this contrary position may help keep moderates and liberals from panting over an unlikely impeachment that - in any event - they’d be insane to try to lead. Right now DT is the Republicans’ problem. And the more Ryan and co. suck up to him, the more so.

Also, it’s “contrarian.” And also… did I mention “apocalypse cultist?”

Tim Wolter said...

David

Thank you for a well reasoned reply

Maybe negotiation is well and truly dead. Brings back memories of my earlier existence....Charge to 300...SHOCK...no rhythm...continue CPR....another amp of epinephrine...charge to 300...SHOCK...repeat to exhaustion.

And if as a previous poster suggested, nobody is ever convinced over the internet, then my query - self directed of course - as to what the point of posting here really is, becomes more cogent.

Ah well.

T/Tacitus

Steven Hammond said...

@ john fremont: who said:

Steven, I find it interesting that one of the main Christian Reconstruction authors, Gary North, dedicated his 1989 book, Political Polytheism to the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America "who for 190 years have smelled a rat in Philadelphia."
North lays out in that book that the Constitutional Convention was a coup by the Founders by removing religious tests oaths from public office and of course the ratification of the First Amendment. The Constitution has no reference to a deity where as the Articles of Confederation did. The delegates at the Constitutional Convention drew from the Roger Williams and the Rhode Island colony in which the requirement of religious oaths was antithetical to the Anabaptist doctrine of soul freedom. Rhode Island was settled mainly by Anabaptists.


That's very interesting, indeed. It seems the spirit of the Covenanters, that Susan Watson mentioned, does indeed live on with the Dominionists (and not in a good way), and its danger was recognized early on by the Founders. Thanks!

locumranch said...


"We are *right in perceiving a grotesque and evil existential threat to our children, nation and civilization ... not one thing we’ve said is inappropriate. In fact, calm decorum is increasingly in-apropos. Hey, I'negotiate calmly, if negotiation weren't dead ... But in a war for our childrens’ lives, that requires vigor. We are *right in perceiving a grotesque and evil existential threat to our children, nation and civilization."

Said Pol Pot, Stalin & Hitler as they rounded up one such evil existential threat to their children, nation and civilization.

Shock, Shock, Shock, Everybody Shock.


Best
_____

Then they came for the Dominionists and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Dominionist.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Catfish N. Cod said...

locum says: "Instead, you could be co-opting the Dominionism belief system to support your own agenda, assuming that you possessed the least bit of imagination, as in "The Final Days are upon Us so let's build spaceships for Self-Rapturous purposes in order to meet Our Lord, Savior & Deus Irae halfway because it has always been said that God helps those who helps themselves"."

Hey, if I thought I could, I would. With particular individuals I do use cognate arguments: environmentalism through the Parable of the Talents, for example.

Alas, there's no negotiations with someone whose faith tells them that they possess the righteous power and duty to take my freedoms away, to reorder my society over my objections, and to pursue foreign policies that are to my detriment... because Deus vult! and God's Will (as expressed exclusively by them) is superior to any mere puny human free will.

"When religion and politics ride in the same cart, the whirlwind follows." -- Dune, Frank Herbert, 1965

LarryHart said...

No, doofus, they came for you because they were allowed to consolidate power while you were defending to the death their right to do so.

Zepp Jamieson said...

So am I Pol Pot, Stalin, or Hitler? I don't think I would want to be Hitler because then I would have to speak German, and speaking German is a bit like gargling with orange juice. Just looking at Cambodian script gives me writers' cramp. So maybe I could be Stalin. I would have to write all my vowels backward, but in the case of "A", "I", "O", "U" and "Y" that's not so bad.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I wouldn't want to have my life controlled by Ultra-Orthodox Jews, Wahhabic Moslems or ultra radical feminists. Any of those groups would probably execute me weeks into their regime, if I was lucky.
Dominionists, unlkie the other three groups, are a real and immediate threat. You're in the position of someone sitting in Los Angeles being asked to worry about being attacked by polar bears, tigers, or hippopotumeses while a huge wildfire is bearing down on him. All of them are dangerous; only one is immediate.

Slim Moldie said...

Locum,

If you can agree that “Dominionism is the theocratic idea that regardless of theological view, means, or timetable, Christians are called by God to exercise dominion over every aspect of society by taking control of political and cultural institutions...” than my challenge for you is to lay out a plausible sequence of events culminating with: “...and everyone was a Dominionist, and they all lived happily ever after.”

Sincerely,
slim

TCB said...

@ Tim Wolter, it's me, who insinuated that you might read Daily Stormer. So glad you don't. (Wait, you did not explicitly deny it!) I myself, with mine own eyes, have seen a pickup truck with a sticker which said "Liberal Hunting Permit". Proof that one does not need the internet to be exposed to Vile Rhetoric.

From the political Right, that is.

The political Right in this country GLORIFY violence. And not just this year. It's an old tendency. I like to point out that if Richard Nixon had won the 1960 election, he would have been in the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and most of the people you know would be dead, or never born. (I was a backwoods hillbilly toddler; I might actually have survived it.)

Being that I was born almost literally in the shadow of Mount Mitchell, I have heard fire-and-brimstone sermons. I imagine I heard about the Apocalypse almost before I could read about it. I worried about Hell when the worst sin I had committed was ganking an extra cookie without permission.

Sometime after that I learned about nuclear weapons, and it gradually dawned on me that it was not God who was going to destroy the world. WE were going to do it. From stupidity. But things would work out fine if our leaders could keep their fingers away from the candy-red button long enough for Moon cities and all that cool stuff.

THEN I heard about global warming. Can't say when that was. Since I was a science-oriented kid I probably learned about the greenhouse effect way back in the Seventies. Seemed like a problem for a hundred years in the future, maybe. But then again, there were estimates that the whole Amazon rain forest could be cut down in another fifty years. That sounds like it might be a bad idea... we get oxygen from trees...

Then, Fuck Me With A Chainsaw, Ronald Reagan gets elected! He put a guy named James Watt in at the Department of the Interior. The job is supposed to include protecting wilderness and shit like that. But Watt said "I do not know how many future generations we can count on before the Lord returns...” and he was all for more drilling and mining.

At some point, in one of these sermons I once heard, the preacher said “in the final days, men will almost have the powers of gods, and they will think they are gods!” Yep. Sounds like half the guys in Silicon Valley...

So. I come into this as one who rejected religion, but still thinks we could get the apocalypse. IF we are STUPID.

Ad when I see the progression from people voting for Nixon to Reagan to both shitbird Bushes (the second one had to get his brother and his friends on the Supreme Court to steal the election for him, remember?) and now Trump.

Trump! A bigger traitor than the Rosenbergs (and we know what happened to them! Trump for sure knows about the Rosenbergs, Roy Cohn must have gloated about that affair to him over dinner, a la Angels in America). And it doesn't just stop being treason because the enemy isn't a Communist. There's nothing in the law books nor the dictionary that says it only applies to commies.

And Pence. Ohhh Pence. I am a mountain boy. I can smell Apocalypse on someone's breath, and Pence has it.

P.S. I read Jacobin. It's pretty good.

TCB said...

@ Zepp, it's been a while, but I have dealt with ultra rad fems. They wouldn't execute you!

They wouldn't even castrate you.

They would shame you until you did it yourself.

LarryHart said...

TCB:

I myself, with mine own eyes, have seen a pickup truck with a sticker which said "Liberal Hunting Permit". Proof that one does not need the internet to be exposed to Vile Rhetoric.

From the political Right, that is


You get it. Right-wing threats and intimidation are considered good clean fun. Only when it comes from left of center does it become criminal if not "terrorism".

During the Obama years, it was common every few weeks for people to congregate on a pedestrian bridge over the highway I drove home on at the time and raise banners over the road that said "Impeach Obama Now!". For some reason, that slowed traffic to a crawl on that section of highway. Why do I have a feeling that similar demonstrations against Trump (or Bush before him) would have been shut down by the police for disturbing the peace or some such? Some states (not mine, thankfully) are even passing laws against such demonstrations as "economic terrorism".

On Jan 20, a group of Canadians were denied entry to the US because they admitted to customs agents that their intent was to go to Washington to protest Trump? Eight years prior, I doubt they would have been denied entry if they had been there to protest Obama. So much for the deep state conspiracy of law enforcement against Republicans.

Back in the Air America days, circa 2006 or so, a local right-wing radio station advertised on billboards which simply read "LIBERALS HATE US!" That was the entire selling point. I can't even imagine a liberal station advertising "CONSERVATIVES HATE US", let alone not being criticized for saying so. The local progressive talk station did parody the signs with their own, which (appropriately and tellingly) read, "LIBERALS LOVE US."

In their manner of always thinking we're doing the same thing they do, conservatives really do imagine that liberals are motivated by the thought of "making conservative heads explode", when in fact, we oppose them because their policies are a clear and present danger to all, themselves included. I've recently giving up caring about saving conservatives from their own selves, but I do care what they do to the rest of us. Point being, hurting their little snowflake feelings comes in a distant tenth or so on the priority list.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"They would shame you until you did it yourself."

Ah, yes, that would be ever so much better.

David Brin said...

Har! old lucum whimpers: “you attackers would be the first to scream 'bloody-murder' if anyone else attempted to tar, feather & attack any Judaic, Islamic or Feministic variant in the same way that you attack Dominionism.”

I do not attack Christians. The “red-letter” evangelicals like Jimmy Carter espouse some doctrines I take issue with, but they would join me fighting for freedom and a future of hope for all children. Dominionists in contrast spew hate from every pore. It is the core essence and the reason why they spurn the red-lettered words of Jesus on favor of the BoR, a book which openly declared open war on 99% of humanity and all hope and all chances that our grandchildren will have grandchildren who step out to the stars.

These people hate me, hate us, hate our republic, hate science and want to end it all in a bloodbath. They proclaim it, openly. They are American Taliban and - funny thing - I don't see you accusing me of intolerance when I despise that hateful creed. So no, fellah. Your “intolerance” accusation is a salvo aimed at an imaginary horizon.

David Brin said...

As unaccustomed as I am with demurring at Catfish, this is wrong: “Good grief. Being a Dominionist does *not* imply being a member of a death-cult dedicated to nuclear Armageddon.”

That is the foremost doctrine, true. But given the almost complete transference of primacy to the Book of Revelation, then Dominionism correlates completely with a death-sadism cult,

“Dominionism as an issue is the last thing Republicans want: the proponents want to stay in stealth…” Amen. Someday a public figure of greater stature than me will make clear that they pray daily for an end to all children and an end to the United States of America.

John Fremont (the “Pathfinder”?) You’d like my story “A Professor at Harvard,” in which Roger Williams is a minor character.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Har! old lucum whimpers: “you attackers would be the first to scream 'bloody-murder' if anyone else attempted to tar, feather & attack any Judaic, Islamic or Feministic variant in the same way that you attack Dominionism.”


It's no surprise by now that loc's argument boils down to, "First, they came for the armed thugs who were out to kill me, and I didn't speak out (in defense of the armed thugs). Then they came for me, and there were no Nazis to speak for me."

Pure sophistry. The "they" who come for him in the last stanza are the ones who were stopped in the first. He might as well come out and say "In 1945, we defeated the Nazis and the other fascists, and I didn't speak out. Then, "they" came for me, and there were no fascists to speak out for me."

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

These people hate me, hate us, hate our republic, hate science and want to end it all in a bloodbath. They proclaim it, openly. They are American Taliban and - funny thing - I don't see you accusing me of intolerance when I despise that hateful creed.


You don't? I thought that was exactly his point.

David Brin said...

LH please? I was referring (antecedent) to the Taliban.

Alfred Differ said...

Dominionism has a clear and distinct meaning: It means a belief that God has dominion over everything, including the Constitution.

No. It isn't that simple. The word is being used to mean anything from pushing to have the US self-declare it is Christian nation at the 'benign' end of the scale to a death-cult trying to hasten the end-times at the other end. From what I can see, some of the most worried are other Christians who express a feeling that the 'dominionists' are very un-Christian.

While I can see that Pence would support a position on the milder end of the spectrum, I can't agree that there is enough evidence that he'd support the other apocalyptic end. The 'benign' position is entirely unacceptable to me, but it isn't at the level where I would fear for the lives of my family. Advocates of making the US a Christian nation won't win this time either. The worst they can do is stir up the old anger which could get a lot of people hurt or killed, but it won't end the world.

Pence as President would get us roughly the same people running things as we are getting today without Trump's volatility. Pence is the guy choosing many of the people we don't like today, so nothing about that would change. What would change is he would have to do these things himself. We'd all be looking at him directly when some fool was suggested for heading a useful social institution. The fool's faith might move Pence, but we'd be looking right AT him while he did it instead of looking at Trump. We'd be looking more directly at the Confederacy.

TCB said...

Also, I completely forgot to ask:

Where is the burden of proof here? It is never completely possible to prove, ahead of time, how dangerous a politician will turn out to be. In a recent New Yorker review of a Stalin biography, an historian reported that he had often felt driven to cry out at the long-dead close associates, many of them eventual victims of Stalin: Why didn't you smash his head with a rock? You'd have saved many lives, including your own!

But that's how hindsight works. When people try to exercise foresight and say "The thought of giving this man great power frightens me," there will always be apologists and doubters who say, "Chicken Little! Show me the proof!"

Always. But perhaps we ought to say, "Prove he is NOT dangerous." Which is actually rather easy for the normal run of politicians. If Al Gore had been president, does anyone seriously think he'd have provoked illegal wars or passed trillion dollar tax scams, pushed his favorite religion (whatever that is), or let Sergei Kislyak have a good look at the Oval Office?

Of COURSE not. The man was predictable, sensible, safe, sane, and allegedly boring.

None of the Trump/Pence circle, may all gods help us, is any of those things.

Pence is merely good at seeming so.

Catfish N. Cod said...

What Alfred said.... I fear and virulently oppose all Christianists for a myriad of reasons... but “know thine enemy” said Master Sun Tzu, and I know that the correlation between Christianist and what Alfred calls “hard Dominionist” is not 100%. Something like 80% though.

And yes, “hard” Dominionism definitely is a situation of not only wishing “Jesus will take over the government when he comes and la la la things will be perfect”, but also taking horrific glee in how much the unbelievers will suffer for NOT choosing their brand of koolaid. It is in Jack Chick, it is in “Left Behind”, it is in every “Christian” movie in which the atheist’s friend who does NOT convert has something terrible happen to them.

It is sick, it is twisted, and it is absolutely against everything Yeshua of Nazareth proclaimed.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Hard religionists always have a habit of lifting a leg and marking territory that is not theirs. Even before Dominionism was a Thing (the Evangelical movement is only 150 years old) there were calls to make the US "a Christian nation".
Of course, that implies preferential treatment for Christianity. Not a complete takeover like the Dominionists want, but still a setup that promotes bigotry and confers second-class citizenship on those not considered "good Christians". England officially is an Anglican nation, and while the law says Catholics have equal rights, they still are subject to popular discrimination. It was far worse when I was a kid.
Both the First Amendment and the "no religious test" language make it clear the government is to favour no religion over another. Even the strident religionists who are't part of a sick death cult are bad news for the rest of us.

LarryHart said...

TCB:

In a recent New Yorker review of a Stalin biography, an historian reported that he had often felt driven to cry out at the long-dead close associates, many of them eventual victims of Stalin: Why didn't you smash his head with a rock? You'd have saved many lives, including your own!

But that's how hindsight works. When people try to exercise foresight and say "The thought of giving this man great power frightens me," there will always be apologists and doubters who say, "Chicken Little! Show me the proof!"


Way back in the paleolithic era of the 2016 Republican debates, every single one of the...was it 16?...Republican candidates insisted that, if he had the means and opportunity, he'd have killed Baby Hitler.*

This fantastic proposition was put to the lie in real time. Those very same men could have very easily and without having to resort to murder accomplished the same thing metaphorically by not supporting the election of Trump. Instead, they demonstrated that they not only would have demurred at killing Baby Hitler, but they would have made the binary choice to support grown-up Hitler if he promised them tax cuts.

* As we're talking about Republican debates, I wish someone had had the balls to ask the obvious follow-up question as to whether they'd have been willing to accomplish the same goal by aborting Hitler in his mother's womb. It would have been quite telling to see politicians already justifying the killing of a toddler for the greater good explain the necessity of not doing so to the same entity as a fetus until it had been born first.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Even before Dominionism was a Thing (the Evangelical movement is only 150 years old) there were calls to make the US "a Christian nation".
Of course, that implies preferential treatment for Christianity. Not a complete takeover like the Dominionists want, but still a setup that promotes bigotry and confers second-class citizenship on those not considered "good Christians".


Exactly! It's not about whether some of our national politics may be informed by the tenets of Christianity or not. One of the great things about America is the idea that all American citizens have the same rights and privileges, regardless of membership in other clubs.

The whole "Christian nation" thing requires dividing citizens into tiers and reserving the best rights and services for those allowed the official imprimatur of being one of the "Christians" rather than those other hangers-on who are only allowed to live here at the whim and sufferance of the Christians. And the jockeying for official status would have little to do with whether one is a good Christian in their own heart or private life. It would be all about public displays of sycophancy toward those empowered to authorize your status as a Christian or to take that status away.

Donald Trump:

First of all, I'm a great Christian (and I am!)...

locumranch said...


Such narcissism to assume that your progressively subjective perspective is the only right, true or valid one so that you may dismiss & invalidate any perspective that conflicts with your subjective truth.

If your commitment to Otherness only applies to those who believe exactly as you believe, then you care only for yourself & not the Other.

Best

Alfred Differ said...

@TCB | We all glorify violence in some ways. It is a matter of which kind of violence. Read Sapolsky. It is a human thing and not a concept cornered by the political right.

I am a mountain boy. I can smell Apocalypse on someone's breath, and Pence has it.

See? THAT I can respect. I don't need proof. I need community wisdom. Your voice is enough to get me to pay attention, but it isn't enough yet to make me fear that you are correct. You and others are pointing out a possible danger. While I WILL pay attention, I'm not convinced yet that you are correct about it.

I've seen far too much political madness from people who don't know the person over which they froth about to be anything less than skeptical of their claims. We go collectively insane during election season and for some of us the madness doesn't leave immediately after the concession speeches. Occasionally the vile descriptions of candidates prove to be true, but more often than not, they do not.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Let's see. If we are accepting of Otherness, we are mocked for being weak, with the implication that not standing up for our own civilization will lead to its destruction. If there are any groups we do not totally accept, we are mocked as being insufficiently pure in our rhetoric, implying that we are the exact opposite -- because of course pure and extreme positions are the only ones possible.

You cannot frame us as purists and then condemn us for a lack of purism -- especially when we loudly announce our pragmatism.

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

You cannot frame us as purists and then condemn us for a lack of purism


That's the gist of most right-wing arguments against so-called liberal hypocrisy. "You're a caricature of a monster, and then you don't do a good job of living up to the caricature."

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

We all glorify violence in some ways. It is a matter of which kind of violence. Read Sapolsky. It is a human thing and not a concept cornered by the political right.


Hey, I love the old Batman tv show, every episode of which ended with a fist-fight. But even at six years old, I didn't expect real life to work that way.

That's what distinguishes the current right-wing (and ISIS) from the rest of humanity. Instead of substituting vicarious enjoyment from fiction for bad behavior in real life, they glorify cartoon supervillany and support mimicking it in real life. They presume other people's fear and loathing to be an indicator of their power and righteousness.

This isn't new with Trump. I might have first noticed it during the 2004 election season when the Republican candidates and spokespeople were arguing in favor of torture. Specifically, they wanted the US military to emulate Jack Bauer from "24".

john fremont said...

That was a major issue I had with Roy Moore's candidacy even before the sexual scandals. While he talked about upholding the Constitution, he did not think Muslims had standing to serve in elected office. The religious test oath in the Constitution is not clear enough for Roy Moore.

john fremont said...

In light of TCB's and your comments about violence and the right, going back in time to stop Hitler always involves violence on the right when they frame the question. I recall back when the Bush Administration was justifying their doctrine of "preventive war", many of the conservative commentators were defending the position that if one could go back in time a shoot Hitler on the battlefield in WWI even if he surrendered it would be justified. I remember a liberal commenter saying that if he had that time machine he wouldn't need to kill Hitler to stop him, he would've posed as a great critic and told the young Hitlet he had a great talent for the arts!

LarryHart said...

@john fremont,

Even easier--go back to 1888 or so and interrupt Hitler's parents' fateful night of conception.

Me, I'd like to see the result if someone time-travels back to 1804 and slips blanks into Aaron Burr's pistol.

TCB said...

Killing Hitler is such a time-travel trope that there's a joke: "Everybody does it on his first trip."

I've read that Tarantino, in Inglourious Basterds, is turning his camera on US. We see a theater filled with Nazis cheering the exploits of their version of Audie Murphy, and there WE are in the audience cheering when one of the the Basterds makes a mousse of Herr Hitler's head with a machine gun.

So, point taken: I remember being a big fan of Rat Patrol (loosely based on the British SAS harassing Rommel's Afrika Korps.) And Batman! It had a pretty cool format, you know... a half hour show on Tuesday ending in truly ridiculous cliffhanger, and the conclusion on Thursday ending in BIFF! BAM! POW!

We do all glorify violence, or nearly all, as long as it's the herous dishing it out. But. There are pacifists among us, and it is a serious ethical debate whether pacifism is always the right idea (Gandhi apparently would have let Hitler win rather than pick up a bayonet). I don't have the answers! I'm a shitty pacifist.

Re: early Christianity, there was an article online a month or so back, about a highly intelligent young woman of Greek ancestry living with her mom up in Montana. When she was about 5, her mother and she were homeless and living in the mom's car in California; the mother pretended to get lost, but when the sun came up they were at the particle accelerator at Stanford. They had free tours, and her mom did this as a surprise. So the young lady shocked the prof giving the tour by asking how they cooled the machine! (I wouldn't have thought to ask, would you?) He got her alone and interrogated her, discovering that this homeless child was a bona fide genius. Later, this would bring her problems as well as opportunities...

Being of Greek extraction, she was asked (at about he age of 14) to give a speech in honor of the founding fathers of the Orthodox Church. Being seriously intelligent, she researched them and wrote a speech which reflected that research. Big controversy! Seems the early Orthodox patriarchs were not all that different from the Taliban, the Iron Age Hebrews of the Old Testament, medieval Christians, early followers of Mohammed... they were big on burning pagan texts and killing critics (the only movie I know that depicts this early aggressive phase of Christianity is Agora, which I recommend; the many other movies about the early Church, such as Ben Hur, are filled with Persecuted Christians Getting Fed To The Lions tropes, which I gather are not supported by very much historical evidence).

I guess my point is,let us not necessarily say that modern Dominionists are 'not acting in the spirit of Christianity.' They, uh, kinda are.

David Brin said...

Meep.Accusations of hypocrisy must always get at least a glance. But I tire of peering through binoculars at salvoes aimed waaaaaaaaay over there.

onward

onward