In her soft wind I will whisper

  • Paul Krugman on how people see what they believe, despite evidence, regarding Tucker Carlson and his visit to Russia;
  • Robert Reich on how Trump, and Putin, are not leaders; they’re thugs;
  • About selective memory among conservatives about the economy under Trump and Biden, and those gold sneakers Trump is hawking;
  • Amanda Marcotte expands on the right’s plans under Trump to turn America into a Christian theocracy;
  • About an Alabama Supreme Court justice all for spreading Christian nationalism;
  • Conservative obsession with pedophilia, and the world being rigged;
  • How the Alabama decision about IVF is base superstition; would a firefighter run into a burning building to save a frozen embryo?
  • How Sam Alito allows faith-based bigotry;
  • And Crowded House’s “She Goes On.”

Paul Krugman, NY Time, 20 Feb 2024: Believing Is Seeing (The link here is a gift link, so you can read the piece without being a NYT subscriber.)

The gist here is that people see what they already believe in, recalling how Republicans think the economy is in shambles, even though they tend to be optimistic about their own personal circumstances. (This is just another example of motivated reasoning, of course.) What struck me though was Krugman’s comparison of life in American cities vs. life in Russia, given that Tucker Carlson recently extolled the latter.

What was most startling about Tucker Carlson’s recent trip to Russia wasn’t his obsequious interview with Vladimir Putin but his gushing days afterward over how wonderful a place Moscow is. But then again, he was a special guest of the country that invented Potemkin villages (even if the original story is dubious), and making sure he saw only good stuff must have been easy.

Imagine, for example, that you brought people to New York and made sure that all they saw was the Upper East Side near the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They’d come away with the impression that New York is a very clean, spiffy-looking city.

The truth is that while parts of Moscow offer a small elite an opulent lifestyle, Russia as a whole is more than a bit ramshackle. Around a fifth of homes don’t even have indoor toilets. For many Russians, life is poor, nasty, brutish and short: Life expectancy is substantially lower than in the United States, even though America’s life expectancy has fallen and lags that of other advanced countries.

Anyway, while praising Moscow, Carlson trashed American cities, especially New York, where, he said, “you can’t use your subway” because “it’s too dangerous.” No doubt, there are some New Yorkers afraid to take the subway. Somehow, however, there were around 1.7 billion riders each year before the pandemic — yes, I take the subway all the time — and ridership, though still depressed by the rise of working from home, has been recovering rapidly.

Note that Krugman provides citations via the links. You can check his evidence claims for yourself.

But right-wingers seem immovable in their conviction that New York is an urban hellscape — only 22 percent of Republicans consider it a safe place to live in or visit — despite the fact that it’s one of the safest cities in America.


More about Tucker and Vladimir.

Robert Reich, 19 Feb 2024: The difference between leaders and thugs

Days before Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny died in prison, Tucker Carlson gushed over Vladimir Putin, saying, “Leadership requires killing people.”

Well, I’m sorry, Tucker. You’re wrong.

Real leadership is the opposite of thuggery. The world’s greatest leaders help their societies deal with their hardest problems. They have moral authority. Alexei Navalny was more of a leader than Putin will ever be.

The same distinction holds for American presidents, an appropriate subject for Presidents Day.

And then he goes on to explain how Trump aligns with Putin, Netanyahu, and other current “strongmen.”


More about selective memory among conservatives.

LA Times, LZ Granderson, 21 Feb 2024: Column: On the economy, there’s no comparison between Biden and Trump

[T]here’s no longer room for debate about Trump’s ability to handle the economy. That’s done.

Even before he first ran for president, Trump led businesses into bankruptcy six times. (He explained that away as shrewd business.) He has been in legal trouble with the U.S. government again and again since the 1970s.

Trump ballooned the deficit by $7.8 trillion — and $3.3 trillion of that was before COVID-19 hit the U.S. and necessitated vast stimulus programs.

And now he owes so much money after losing a string of court cases that he is selling gold gym shoes at campaign stops to raise money for his legal fees. Gym shoes with red bottoms — a Christian Louboutin knockoff of sorts. The exact kind of shoe associated with wealth. The kind of wealth Republicans in the House tell you they are fighting against.

It’s all theater.

A couple people on Facebook today wondered how, if the economy is so bad, how so many people shelled out $399 for those tacky gold sneakers … that haven’t been manufactured yet, and won’t be until July, if ever.


This piece responds to the Politico item that I led with yesterday.

Salon, Amanda Marcotte, 21 Feb 2024: Donald Trump may not believe in God, but he still plans to turn America into a Christian theocracy, subtitled “Like any cult leader, Trump’s goal is to get power — and the religious right is ready to take advantage”

If there were only some way to prove it, I would happily bet everything I own that Donald Trump does not believe in God. Not because he’s carefully engaged the many philosophical proofs for atheism that are out there, of course. He’s simply too much of a sociopathic narcissist to believe in anything higher than himself. He also, as recent court verdicts regarding sexual assault and massive fraud demonstrate, has no moral compass. He’s only too happy to be party to attempted murder, in fact, as long as it’s someone else who takes the risk of prison for it.

Alas, there’s no way to force Trump to tell the truth about his lack of belief in God, but there are plenty of signs of his deep contempt for religion. Multiple witnesses have described how he laughs at Christians behind their backs, calling their faith “bullshit.” When he play-acts belief in public, he struggles to hide his scorn, failing to acknowledge basic precepts of Christianity that even most non-believers understand.

I suspect most Americans, even Republican voters, understand that Trump is not a believer. (He does seem to think he’s a god himself, a view his voters are all too willing to endorse.) Unfortunately, this can incline folks to feel that, if re-elected, Trump will govern as a secularist. Focus groups, for instance, regularly show that voters disregard the threat Trump poses to legal abortion, even though he’s the reason Roe v. Wade was overturned. They correctly surmise that Trump would be fine with any woman he has sex with aborting an inconvenient pregnancy, but forget that, for Trump, rules are for other people. He’d only be too happy to send every woman who got an abortion to prison, so long as he personally is off the hook.

Amanda Marcotte does these roundup summaries, with lots of links, better than anyone. Lots of good stuff here. One bit stands out.

The Heritage Foundation, which is also busy drafting plans for Trump’s possible next term, is also gunning to ban birth control along with abortion.

Heritage Foundation:

“It seems to me that a good place to start would be a feminist movement against the pill, & for… returning the consequentiality to sex.”

Conservatives have to lead the way in restoring sex to its true purpose, & ending recreational sex & senseless use of birth control pills.

Keeping voters from knowing about these plans is of utmost importance to the Christian right.

This is essentialiam, a long out-moded philosophical position, that things have a *purpose* (rather than multiple functions), and their use must be limited to that purpose. But conservatives subscribe to a base human nature, as I’ve discussed many times. Why don’t they just mind their own business??


It’s happening.

Media Matters, Payton Armstrong, 21 Feb 2024: Alabama Supreme Court chief justice spreads Christian nationalist rhetoric on QAnon conspiracy theorist’s show

They’re upfront about this. (Do they not remember why the Pilgrims left England?)

During a recent interview on the program of self-proclaimed “prophet” and QAnon conspiracy theorist Johnny Enlow, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Parker indicated that he is a proponent of the “Seven Mountain Mandate,” a theological approach that calls on Christians to impose fundamentalist values on all aspects of American life.

Enlow is a pro-Trump “prophet” and leading proponent of the “Seven Mountain Mandate,” a “quasi-biblical blueprint for theocracy” that asserts that Christians must impose fundamentalist values on American society by conquering the “seven mountains” of cultural influence in U.S. life: government, education, media, religion, family, business, and entertainment.

Enlow has also repeatedly pushed the QAnon conspiracy theory, sometimes even connecting it to the Seven Mountain Mandate. Per Right Wing Watch, Enlow has claimed that world leaders are “satanic” pedophiles who “steal blood” and “do sacrifices” and that “there is presently no real democracy on the planet” because over 90 percent of world leaders are involved in pedophilia and are being blackmailed.

So many things to unpack here, but for now let’s just wonder, why are conservatives so obsessed with pedophilia?

Anyway, they will never succeed. The world is too complex, in ways they have no clue about.


And what is their obsession with everything being rigged? Is it because they think they can rig everything in their favor?

NY Times, guest essay by Katherine J. Cramer and Jonathan D. Cohen, 21 Feb 2024: Many Americans Believe the Economy Is Rigged


And the latest news about the religious right applying their basically superstitious beliefs (that embryos are children) to the law.

Slate, Mark Joseph Stern, 21 Feb 2024: Alabama’s Assault on IVF Is Even Worse Than It Sounds

The court relied on a law passed in 1872, and were very concerned about “incurring the wrath of a holy God.”


This piece places the controversy into ordinary terms. I suspect even conservatives would say, No. Title says all.

LA Times, Robin Abcarian, 21 Feb 2024: Column: Would you expect a firefighter to run into a burning building to save a frozen embryo?

The piece opens:

The bizarre decision handed down last week by the Alabama Supreme Court, which ruled that frozen human embryos are people too, is the reductio ad absurdum of the antiabortion movement’s religious worship of the union of egg and sperm.

I like the use of “reductio ad absurdum” to characterize the way conservatives tend to reduce every complex issue to simplex terms of black and white. One more excerpt:

The ruling is, in a word, preposterous. And I’m not the only one who thinks so. As one of the Alabama justices put it, in a partial dissent: “To equate an embryo stored in a specialized freezer with a fetus inside of a mother is engaging in an exercise of result-oriented, intellectual sophistry, which I am unwilling to entertain.”


But even Supreme Court justices cannot think past their religious inculcation, apparently.

Hemant Mehta, Friendly Atheist, 21 Feb 2024: Sam Alito is mad that anti-gay Christians were struck from the jury in a case about a lesbian, subtitled “The Supreme Court justice believes faith-based bigotry should get a free pass in court”

The gist:

Yesterday, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito argued that excluding potential jurors from hearing a case involving a lesbian, even after they say they believe homosexuality is a sin, amounts to religious discrimination.

Some of these conservative quagmires might be clarified through analogy. If a potential juror for a case involving a black man were a member of the KKK who admitted he would like to hang the defendant from a tree, would *that* be grounds for dismissing him from the jury? Explain the difference. As always, the religious think their own biases are exempt from ordinary thinking.


The best song from Crowded House’s third album, Woodface:

Listen to the lyrics and you can guess why this song was written.

This is the place that I loved her
And these are the friends that she had
Long may the mountain ring
To the sounds of her laughter
And she goes on and on

In her soft wind I will whisper
In her warm sun I will glisten
‘Til we see her once again
In a world without end

Every day I reread and copy-edit my post from the evening before. If this comment is still here, I have not yet done so for this post.

This entry was posted in Conservative Resistance, conservatives, Music, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.