Links and Comments: Reality; Economics; Religion and Politics

Scientific American: Now Is the Time to Reestablish Reality, subtitled “We need to agree on the evidence—so we can disagree on what to do in light of it”

On the occasion of the passing of the Trump administration, of course.


NYT, Paul Krugman: Four Rules That Should Guide Bidenomics, subtitled “Basically, damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”

These rules of course echo themes Krugman has been expressing for years. They’re based on evidence and history, and contradict the ideological superstitions of the Right.

1, Don’t doubt the power of government to help.
2, Don’t obsess about debt.
3, Don’t worry about inflation.
4, Don’t count on Republicans to help govern.

Republicans, for example, obsess about debt when it involves disaster relief programs for the pandemic, but not when passing huge tax cuts for billionaires.


Not a site I’ve read before, but this piece was linked by a Facebook friend:

Religion Unplugged: Charismatics are at war with each other over failed prophecies of Trump victory

A day of reckoning has come for modern-day “prophets” in the Pentecostal/charismatic movement who falsely foretold a victory for President Trump in 2020.

One charismatic leader calls it a “rebuke from the Lord.”

A major speaker in the movement calls it “the largest scale deception I’ve seen in 49 years of following Jesus.”

And yet another pastor is blasting parts of the movement as being “sick.”

Privately and on social media, these prophets and their thousands of followers are slugging it out in an orgy of self-blame, recriminations and fantastical hopes that somehow before Jan. 20, God will bring about a victory for Trump.

Did they *really* believe, despite all the evidence about the outcome of the election, that Trump was somehow ordained by God to remain the president? (Are they living media bubbles that exclude legitimate news?)


And NYT, David Brooks: Trump Ignites a War Within the Church, subtitled “After a week of Trumpist mayhem, white evangelicals wrestle with what they’ve become.”

On the one hand, there are those who are doubling down on their Trump fanaticism and their delusion that a Biden presidency will destroy America.

“I rebuke the news in the name of Jesus. We ask that this false garbage come to an end,” the conservative pastor Tim Remington preached from the pulpit in Idaho on Sunday. “It’s the lies, communism, socialism.”

The violent Know-Nothingism, which has always coursed through American history, is once again a torrent, threatening more violence in the days ahead.

On the other hand, many Trump supporters have been shaken to the core by the sight of a sacrilegious mob blasting Christian pop music and chanting “Hang Mike Pence.” There have been defections and second thoughts. The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who delivered a prayer at the Trump inaugural, told his congregation Sunday, “We must all repent, even the church needs to repent.”


One core feature of Trumpism is that it forces you to betray every other commitment you might have: to the truth, moral character, the Sermon on the Mount, conservative principles, the Constitution. In defeat, some people are finally not willing to sacrifice all else on Trump’s altar.

The split we are seeing is not theological or philosophical. It’s a division between those who have become detached from reality and those who, however right wing, are still in the real world.

Hence, it’s not an argument. You can’t argue with people who have their own separate made-up set of facts. You can’t have an argument with people who are deranged by the euphoric rage of what Erich Fromm called group narcissism — the thoughtless roar of those who believe their superior group is being polluted by alien groups.


Again via a third party, on conservative site The Dispatch, by conversative anti-LGBTQ writer David French: Only the Church Can Truly Defeat a Christian Insurrection, subtitled, “It’s time to combat the right’s enabling lies.”

Why do I say this was a Christian insurrection? Because so very many of the protesters told us they were Christian, as loudly and clearly as they could. The Atlantic’s invaluable religion reporter, Emma Green, compiled considerable evidence of the Christian presence in her excellent report. I saw much of it with my own eyes. There was a giant wooden cross outside the Capitol. “Jesus saves” signs and other Christian signs were sprinkled through the crowd. I watched a man carry a Christian flag into an evacuated legislative chamber.

I could go on and on. My colleague Audrey Fahlberg was present at the riot, and she told me that Christian music was blaring from the loudspeakers late in the afternoon of the takeover. And don’t forget, this attack occurred days after the so-called Jericho March, an event explicitly filled with Christian-nationalist rhetoric so unhinged that I warned on December 13 that it embodied “a form of fanaticism that can lead to deadly violence.”


Slate, Dahlia Lithwick: Republicans Still Don’t Get It, subtitled, “Even after almost dying, they are screaming about their right to blather while in the act of blathering.”

Free speech is important. Really, really important. But the notion that the right to lie freely and unencumbered, about the scourge of non-governmental censorship is somehow equivalent to the right not be shot dead in the seat of government itself, is the most tragic perversion of American freedom I have ever witnessed.  Donald Trump was impeached today for actually inciting violence. This happened while his stalwart defenders carped on and on about their fundamental freedom to keep lying about it. It is the most on the nose indictment of “liberty” ever performed.


Then there’s a certain QAnon congresswoman, as observed by UK’s The Independent (the whole world is watching, and judging, the US through all this, of course): Marjorie Taylor Green: QAnon congresswoman mocked for wearing mask saying ‘censored’ while speaking to the nation on live TV.

This is like Trump’s supporters claiming that Twitter is denying Trump’s free speech, or Josh Hawley complaining that his publisher is *obliged* to published his book, because free speech. That’s not how it works. (Am I denied free speech because that publisher isn’t obliged to publish *my* book, and anyone else who might want to publish a book?) Are all these people being disingenuous for the sake of attracting voters, or are they just dumb?


Meanwhile, Slate observes, Fox News Can Barely Admit the Capitol Riot Is a Story, subtitled, “It was the week Trump was impeached for fomenting insurrection, and Fox’s hosts mostly railed against Twitter.”

As we all know, America can never be truly great unless conservative pundits are free to whine at all times about their very unfair treatment at the hands of their ideological opponents. And so it went all week on Fox News, as the network’s marquee opinion hosts tried hard to argue that America’s real crisis was one of free speech figuratively under attack by the left, rather than its democratic institutions literally under attack by the right.

Which is why I never, ever, watch Fox News.

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