Current Affairs, 8 Dec 2022

How Christian morality plays out; the Respect for Marriage Act and the weeping Republican; the right’s sense of grievance; how the media is disconnected from reality; opposite opinions about the American defense budget.

Follow-up thought to the Edsal/NYT piece yesterday, or to my comment to it. If the vast majority of MAGA/Trump supporters are Christians, who claim that morality comes from the Bible, especially Jesus, then how to explain the massive failure of Biblical morality to influence Christians’ lives, that they would support such a person as Trump with virtually no reservations? I’ve seen suggestions that Trump isn’t any worse than some Old Testament despots, QED, but that elides the problem. File this for further thought, perhaps under the category “failures of religion.”


Vox, Li Zhou, 8 Dec 2022: What the Respect for Marriage Act actually does, subtitled “It doesn’t go as far as Obergefell, but it still offers important protections.”

Salon, Kelly McClure, 8 Dec 2022: Republican congresswoman bursts into tears after House passes Respect for Marriage Act, subtitled “Rep. Vicky Hartzler made a tearful plea for her colleagues to help oppose what she views as a ‘dangerous bill'”

Although the Respect for Marriage Act is better than nothing, it is an imperfect bill in that individual states are not legally required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but they must honor the rights of couples who were legally married elsewhere.

Insider, Madison Hall, 8 Dec 2022: A Republican congresswoman broke down in tears begging her colleagues to vote against a same-sex marriage bill

She’s terribly upset that the entire nation doesn’t embrace her “values.” File this under “Christian privilege.”


Amanda Marcotte, Salon, 8 Dec 2022: Phony conservative victimhood is more than grating — it fuels a climate of anti-LGBTQ bigotry, subtitled “A sense of grievance embraced by the right is helping to cultivate an environment of hatred, abuse and violence”

Specifically concerning Anderson Lee Aldrich and the shooting at Club Q on November 19 in Colorado Springs. And more generally the way conservatives equate LGBTQ people with “grooming”, “as if simply being gay and being around kids is the same as manipulating children to make them easier to abuse.” And even more generally:

In the world of psychology, there’s a term for a strategy domestic abusers use against victims: “DARVO,” which is short for “Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.” This also describes the rhetorical strategies the right uses when justifying bigoted or dangerous rhetoric or behavior. The “groomer” lie is a classic example. Wallowing in DARVO too long can distort a person’s view of reality. It can even recast a person who allegedly claimed to want to be a mass killer as a potential victim of would-be gun grabbers.

This is similar to the psychological idea of “projection,” in which one accuses others of one’s own sins. The prominent example is how conspiracy theorists accuse *everyone* of being involved in conspiracies — or, another example, how Republicans accuse Democrats of trying to steal elections, when it is obviously Republicans, through laws designed to inhibit voting (especially by minorities) in various ways, and gerrymandering, are trying to do so in plain view.


Salon, Brian Karem, 8 Dec 2022: Our biggest problem isn’t Trump or Biden: The media is disconnected from reality, subtitled “After 38 years as a political reporter, here’s my assessment of the current D.C. press corps: A flaming car wreck”

The writer, a White House correspondent, describes in great detail the events of yesterday, Wednesday, as he drove to the White House on I-270 and narrowly avoided a car crash, and then heard all the various stories in the news: Warnock defeated Walker; Ukraine bombed Russia; the Trump Organization was found guilty of tax fraud, and items about Madison Cawthorn, Jared Kushner, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And yet reporters, after the daily briefing by WH press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, asked questions not about any of those issues, but about why some reporters got invitations to the White House Christmas party, while others did not.

To be clear — my comment, not anything implied in the article — this is not about the “fake news” that conservatives keep accusing the main-stream media of. This is about negligent reporting and the government’s interaction with the press.

And if anything, this is about the superficial nature of most MSM news. And it relates to that book I reviewed by Rolf Dobelli, STOP READING THE NEWS (reviewed here back in March), on the principal reason that the news, especially on TV, function as entertainment, not journalism.

But this piece goes a bit deeper: it’s about critical thinking and media literacy.

Unless there is a fundamental paradigm shift in American journalism that allows for critical thinking, and unless media literacy becomes part of the curriculum in our public schools, there simply is no way to cure what is wrong with the American press — and that makes it nearly impossible to cure what is wrong with our democracy and, more to the point, that’s why Trumpism will continue long after Donald Trump falls victim to the actuary tables.

And I’ve saved a post by Adam-Troy Castro on a related point: that there is always a core of Americans, or members of any society, who are given to irrational thinking and authoritarian allegiance. It’s just part of human nature. Will explore that next time.


Finally, two items I will only link; I haven’t read them through to comment. They’re on both sides of the issue about the American defense budget.

NYT, Bret Stephens, 6 Dec 2022: Are We Sleepwalking Through a ‘Decisive Decade’?

Stephens, a conservative, cites many reasons why the American defense budget is too small. Even as he acknowledges that “The United States, goes a common talking point, spends more on defense than the next nine nations combined.”

Slate, Fred Kaplan, 8 Dec 2022: There Is No Good Reason for a Defense Budget This Large, subtitled “And yet, no one is even talking about the additional $45 billion.”

And Kaplan’s initial point is that Congress, both houses, routinely pass military spending bills, currently some $847 billion, without debate.

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