Disconnects from Reality

  • The economy is doing great and yet conservatives deny it;
  • Heather Cox Richardson contrasts worldviews, one leading to our economy, the other to mass shootings;
  • More about House Speaker Mike Johnson: hate for LGBTQ+ people; allegiance with “debunked faux-historian” David Barton;
  • And wondering why we shouldn’t take modern prophets, like Kat Kerr, as seriously as any of the Biblical prophets.

More about conservatives’ disconnect from reality. They believe what they believe.

Washington Post, Catherine Rampell, 26 Oct 2023: Opinion | When will Americans stop worrying and learn to love the U.S. economy?

It’s not just Paul Krugman saying this.

What will it take for Americans to stop worrying and finally learn to love the U.S. economy?

On paper, at least, the U.S. economy looks remarkably good. The recent stunning jobs report has now been followed by a stunning GDP report: U.S. economic output grew at an annual pace of 4.9 percent in the third quarter of this year, the Commerce Department reported Thursday, after adjusting for inflation and the usual seasonal patterns.

For context, that’s more than double the pace from the prior quarter, the fastest rate of growth since late 2021, and light-years higher than economists had been expecting not too long ago.

When this year began, a majority of private-sector economists surveyed were predicting an imminent downturn. Heck, even as recently as June, the staff economists at the Federal Reserve were predicting a “mild recession” that would begin sometime in 2023. These economists are not right-wing partisans trying to make President Biden look bad, or naive normies brainwashed by a pessimistic media, whatever Democrats’ fever dreams might be. They’re professional forecasters paid to get the numbers right.

Now of course if a Republican were president, conservatives would be quick to give him credit for our great economy. As it is, newly-elected House Speaker Mike Johnson said in an interview that he can’t think of anything that President Biden has done right. That’s pure partisan motivated reasoning, and denial of reality.


Similar note. Richardson is a remarkable writer for taking two current events and weaving a plausible political narrative around them, drawing on history.

Letters from an American, Heather Cox Richardson, 27 Oct 2023: October 26, 2023

Today, data from the Commerce Department showed that the U.S. economy grew at an astonishing rate of 4.9% in the third quarter, and we learned that in Lewiston, Maine, a single shooter killed at least 18 people—more people than died by gun homicide in Maine in the whole of 2021—and injured at least 13 others.

These two things are the results of two dramatically different worldviews.

Next comes some history, in which the US government was regarded as a force for good.

President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and the administration’s other economic advisors have resurrected the idea that the government can promote economic growth by regulating businesses, protecting workers, and investing in ordinary Americans.

That theory reaches back to the liberal consensus of the years from 1933 to 1981, when members of both parties believed that the intricacies of the modern economy required the federal government to keep the playing field level so that a few people could not monopolize resources and power, cutting others out. In those years, Americans used the government to regulate business, provide a basic social safety net, promote infrastructure, and protect civil rights. The system created what economists call the “great compression.” Wealth and income distribution became much more even, and economic inequality fell dramatically. The economy boomed.

Yet conservatives, who, ahem, prefer simplistic explanations, and reject the intricacies of what they demonize as the “deep state”, rejected this.

The modern-day Republican Party grew out of a rejection of that idea. In the 1950s and 1960s, a faction insisted that such government action was a form of socialism that stopped the economy from responding efficiently to market forces. Individual entrepreneurs should invest their money without government interference, they argued, and their investments would dramatically expand the economy. Putting money at the “supply side” rather than the “demand side” would allow everyone to prosper together, they promised: a rising tide would lift all boats. They vowed to cut taxes and regulations and to restore American individualism.

Those same people championed the image of the American cowboy as the symbol of the country: a man who wanted nothing from the government but to be left alone to work hard and prosper, and who protected himself and his family—if he had one—with a gun.

That image was always a myth, but it was an attractive one to white voters who had come to resent the government’s protection of civil rights, those voters who listened to politicians who assured them that the government’s actions were simply a way to direct tax dollars into the pockets of undeserving minorities.

Richardson goes on about how the NRA, organized in 1871 to promote marksmanship, increasingly aligned with the conservative Republican party.

But now, as the nation reels from another mass shooting, there is yet more proof that Republican economic individualism from which the gun obsession developed doesn’t work as well as the idea of using the government to support the American people. Growth under the Trump administration before the Covid-19 pandemic hit was 2.5%. Trump promised he would get it to 3%, which he claimed was an astonishing rate.

Despite the dire warnings that the economic policies of the Biden administration would cause a terrible recession, Biden and Harris rejected supply-side policies and stood firm on the traditional idea that trying to hold the economic playing field level and investing in workers and infrastructure would nurture the economy. The economy has responded exactly as they predicted, giving the U.S. strong growth for the past five quarters.


OK, the media are not letting this go, so neither will I, at least for today.

LA Times, LZ Granderson, 27 Oct 2023: Column: Republican hate for LGBTQ+ people fueled Mike Johnson’s rise to be House speaker

The older I get, the more reminders I see that Maya Angelou was right: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Take the new House speaker, Mike Johnson, for instance.

He’s been showing who he is since 1998, when he graduated from law school and started going after the LGBTQ+ community every chance he could. And I’m not just talking about trying to stop same-sex marriage, because let’s face it, many progressives were against it back then as well. But Johnson was extreme by comparison — advocating for laws that banned two adults from having consensual sex in their own home.

So, to anyone who considers themselves an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, know this: Same-sex marriage and other protections are not safe.

Johnson (R-La.) has made attacking the queer community a huge part of his life’s work. We don’t yet know his style as a leader in the House, but we know exactly where he intends to go.


Slate, Dahlia Lithwick, 27 Oct 2023: No Wonder Donald Trump Loves Mike Johnson

This is a good summary, with lots of links to evidence.

There were so many chilling moments on Wednesday around the ascension—or, as he himself phrased it, the “raising up” by God—of Rep. Mike Johnson to speaker of the House of Representatives. There was his claim that “I don’t believe there are any coincidences in a matter like this. I believe that Scripture, the Bible, is very clear that God is the one that raises up those in authority.” There was his weird and inscrutable explanation that his wife was not present in the chamber because she was “worn out” from the many weeks she had just spent on her knees in prayer to the Lord. There was his now-infamous taped insistence that the United States is “not a democracy,” having defined democracy as “two wolves and a lamb deciding what is for dinner.” Rather, Johnson insisted, we are a “constitutional republic” set up by the founders based on a “biblical admonition.”

“The founders wanted to protect the church from an encroaching state, not the other way around,” Johnson had said, during a September 2022 episode of his conservative Christian podcast, echoing the fabrications of debunked faux-historian David Barton and other religious zealots who have only ever read the parts of the First Amendment, and constitutional history, with which they agree. None of this is historically accurate or even remotely factually true, as David Rothkopf points out here. But for those like Johnson and his former confederates at the Alliance Defending Freedom, where he worked before being elected to Congress, claims that there are broad Christian roots for the founding documents and distortions of the intentions of the Framers are central to the legal and constitutional push for sectarian theocratic ends. Ultimately, if you believe and disseminate one “big lie,” why not believe and press them all?

There is also the fact that Johnson is a zealous homophobe and anti-abortion crusader who has said that physicians who offer abortion care should be “imprisoned at hard labor” and who has co-sponsored federal legislation that would ban abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. In 2015 Johnson told Irin Carmon of New York magazine, “Many women use abortion as a form of birth control.” He has, in speeches, suggested that school shootings are the natural consequence of teaching evolution. He co-sponsored legislation introduced by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene that would make it a crime to provide gender-affirming care to people under 18 years of age. The list goes on and on.


Is it impolite to wonder why such a modern-day “prophetess” shouldn’t be taken as seriously as the Old Testament prophets? What’s the difference exactly?

Right Wing Watch, Kyle Mantyla, 25 Oct 2023: Self-Proclaimed ‘Prophetess’ Kat Kerr Is Rewriting Her Own Prophetic History

Prior to the 2020 presidential election, numerous self-proclaimed “prophets” went on record guaranteeing that former President Donald Trump would be reelected. When that didn’t happen, these same “prophets” immediately became leading purveyors of the Big Lie that the election had been stolen, as doing so conveniently allowed them to avoid having to admit that they had been wrong.

Among these leading “prophetic” voices is Kat Kerr, a self-proclaimed “prophetess” who make regular appearances on highly influential programs aimed at far-right Christian audiences such as “FlashPoint” and the “Elijah Streams” broadcast, as well as at Ralph Reed’s annual “Road To Majority” conference.

There are, of course, any number of “prophets” and doomsday cults who, over and over, rationalize away their failed predictions. True believers will always follow them.

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