Celebrate the Facts!
All media, whether it be print, television, YouTube, or social media, is awash in Donald Trump stories, many of them spun in apocalyptic overtones. Clicks mean money, and Donald Trump means clicks, so much coverage is tinged with hysterical notes. Regardless of the clickbait, Donald Trump will never again be President of the United States, and not only because of his legal trials. Fundamental factors prohibit his election.
The Republican party has been tottering for decades as demographics had ordained its end. For many years the party had been a relatively homogeneous party led by old-fashioned conservatives like John McCain and Mitt Romney. The old-school Republican party was primarily white, suburban, and rural, mainstream Christian conservatives. Today’s Republican Party would be more appropriately renamed the Trump Party, should truth in labeling be required. When Trump is gone, the party will fall into separate special-interest groups, as many have no allegiance to Republican Party traditions.
Trump destroyed the Republican party, but his work did not involve witchcraft. Trump’s genius was his gifts for aggression, scattering personal insults, inspiring anger, dog-whistling racist appeals, and encouraging a sense of lower-class white grievance and hatred. As much as those who oppose him hate him, his followers lust for the emotional fix of hating the groups and people he demonizes. Trump is the most polarizing character in modern history.
Absent moral convictions or any apparent central belief system, Trump cobbled together a winning presidential campaign by enlisting new voters and appealing to various single-issue voter groups. The parts of his winning coalition included avowed racists, evangelical Christians, anti-abortion types, militia members, sovereign citizens, Christian Nationalists, gun enthusiasts, and the remaining bulk of his voters, who were educated, conservative white people.
While many people discount the importance of micro-constituencies, they can determine election results in swing states as the electorate became all too aware in 2016. Grabbing a few groups of single-issue voters made a difference in 2016 and made 2020 a close call.
Once one understands the current Republican constituency is composed of many groups of single-issue voters, the picture morphs into a clear focus. While many consider some of the more cringy groups as conspiracy theorists, that’s a remarkably uninformed look. Almost no one believes there was any significant voter fraud, that there’s a conspiracy of anarchists known as Antifa trying to overthrow the government, that there’s a person known as Q who provides riddles about a baby-eating liberal elite class of pedophiles, or that Donald Trump is an honest and honorable person.
Trump himself doesn’t believe any of that tripe. Responding to his nonsense means engaging on his ground, a premise that somehow acknowledges his statements are worthy of being refuted. Not one person who is whole of mind believes any of this combative gibberish, and debating it gives it a patina of dignity it does not deserve. Debating a Trump follower is similarly fruitless as they merely spout Trump’s talking points.
An election fraud of the scale required to deny Trump the Presidency in 2020 would have required the cooperation of tens of thousands of election insiders, hoards of state and federal judges, and additional thousands of journalism personnel. Such did not happen; even a faint semblance of such never occurred.
The so-called conspiracy theory constituency is a group of people who mimic Trump’s approach of spewing nonsensical statements and claims intended solely as an insult. One might as well argue with a flat-earther as debate a Trump fanatic about the election fraud, Marxists in government, or the soaring legal abilities of Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, and Sidney Powell. Their statements are merely juvenile arguments not worthy of a middle school student.
In the end, facts matter; in this case, they are not alternative facts. The Department of Justice has presented what appears to be an airtight case in the Mar a Lago documents case, and the other forthcoming federal indictments will likely be similarly detailed, with many witnesses agreeing to provide testimony in return for favorable consideration.
At one time, the party apparatuses prevented eccentric candidates from achieving nominations; think of George Wallace, Ross Perot, and Pat Buchanan. The hollowed-out status of the Republican Party allowed Trump the entree to enter the festivities.
The vast and rather undistinguished group of primary challengers in 2016, along with Trump’s unabashed courting of fundamentalist Christians, enabled a hatchet man like Trump to pick them off, one by one, until no one was left. And despite the opportunity, no apparent strong candidate exists to challenge the zombie-like 2024 Trump candidacy, giving him a plausible onramp to the nomination for an incredible third time.
However, it’s certain Trump will spend months of the campaign season sitting in the dock in one or more criminal trials, severely limiting his time while he takes negative shots virtually daily, eroding his already tenuous position. Despite media predictions of a cakewalk to the nomination, Trump faces immense obstacles, and his ascendancy to the nomination is uncertain.
While there’s an odd satisfaction for many in poking fun at Donald Trump and his followers, and several comics have made careers of his reign on the national stage, there’s a significant and more fundamental problem. The same dynamics that made the Republican Party ready for demolition are prevalent in the Democratic Party.
The Democratic Party has no dynamic or inspiring leadership in senior positions and not much in the way of bench strength. Messaging is also a considerable problem, likely due to unimaginative leadership’s fear of trying anything new. And the party appears terrified of taking new and inventive approaches to solving old problems.
The United States federal government, particularly the Justice Department, seems similarly ineffective. Despite Trump inciting a crowd to commit mayhem in the January 6 insurrection, conspiring with numerous people, including attorneys and elected officials, to defraud the United States and remain president, stealing classified documents, and then obstructing justice by not complying with a federal subpoena, no federal charges other than the Florida indictment have yet been forthcoming. However, an indictment for January 6 activities is coming shortly.
The senescence of the parties dovetails with the senility of the federal government’s law enforcement institutions and the seeming lack of courage to take moral action.
Seemingly the Justice Department decided to wait, figuring Trump would go away. But there’s too much money and fame in the Presidency and even a campaign for the office for Trump to ignore. And, as Trump spins on toward even more criminal indictments for crimes he appears to have committed, his quest for the office seems to be more an alternative between winning and going to jail. Winning implies a self-pardon for federal crimes, and losing, it seems, means a stretch in the Graybar Hilton.
If one thinks the January 6 insurrection was a big deal, wait until the Justice Department corners Trump with a full deck of convictions related to election interference and, quite possibly, seditious conspiracy. The end of Trump and Trumpism will likely be a frenzy of hate and violence. That’s no surprise, however, as the Trump movement itself has been characterized by those sentiments.
Oddly, the flaccid reactions of the Justice Department reinforce the right-wing narrative that the law arbitrarily imposes justice and the elites are immune from prosecution.
Many pundits have warned about the next Trump, insinuating another far-right provocateur could take a page from his playbook and cater to racist constituencies to gain power. That hasn’t happened because the bench strength of the Republican Party is so vacuous. The androgynous would-be leaders Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Mike Pence, and Lindsey Graham don’t have the right stuff. A properly pugnacious Ron DeSantis attempted to copy the hate formula and failed, a political journeyman destroyed by a master.
Trumpian candidates such as Herschel Walker, Dr. Oz, and Judge Roy Moore learned that merely being eccentric and spouting bizarre statements was insufficient to get to the show. Offensive shock jocks such as Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene managed to get into the spotlight, but primarily by grabbing seats not coveted by authentic candidates. Madison Cawthorne discovered one could be a highly admired raving lunatic but being gay was impermissible.
Will there be another Trump? Many will likely attempt to catch the Trump lightning in a bottle, but the possibility is faint. Before he ran in 2016, Trump had a public presence for many years, including a remarkable run as the emcee of a purported reality television show that ranked number one in ratings for many years, featuring him for 14 seasons. Trump also tried on conspiracy theories for many years, referencing his affection for birtherism, perfecting his dog-whistling expertise even before he declared his candidacy. Trump is an unmatchable seminal figure.
The point about the Republican Party is it must stay far-right and embrace Trump or fall apart, explaining the coddling of weirdnesses by otherwise rational politicians like Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy. McConnell could have likely powered through an impeachment during the second impeachment trial and ended the circus forever. McConnell knew this was suicide for the Republican Party and deferred action.
The intriguing question is what will happen to a moribund Democratic Party, although the comparison is imperfect. The party has moved to the right during the Trump era, with little legislative accomplishment or new ideas, content to simply court socially conservative voters, especially those mythical suburban housewives. The bench strength is similarly bland, aged, and bereft of energy and resolve.
Can the Democratic Party elect an ancient, albeit nominally effective, Joe Biden? That is more than likely. Kamala Harris as the president-in-waiting seems an uninspiring choice, but her office is mainly ceremonial, and perhaps there is more charisma in her than meets the eye. Aside from the ascendancy of Hakeem Jeffries to the Speaker of the House role, there doesn’t appear to be much bench strength development in either the Senate or the House, and the state government offices similarly lack energetic candidates with new ideas.
A more significant factor in Trump’s electability is his role in overturning Roe v Wade by packing the Supreme Court with Christian Nationalist justices. Abortion rights are a polarizing issue, and Trump’s repayment to his fervent Christian voters will come back and cost him at the ballot box, making election impossible. This factor has been little discussed in infotainment programs that pass as network news, as it draws fewer views than more inflammatory rhetoric. Still, it is an immense obstacle to Trump and any Republican candidate.
There’s a real possibility the 2024 election could feature Trump running as an independent candidate. One can easily envision a scenario where a hobbled Trump totters into the Republican Convention and fails to gain the nomination. With no allegiance or loyalty to anyone but himself, Trump would almost certainly run as a third-party candidate, thereby splitting the Republican vote and ensuring a Democratic landslide. While not yet a likelihood, there are many miles to go before the primary season, and it looks like a bumpy road for Trump.
Humanity is in a dark age of medical knowledge, particularly in dealing with the worst disorders, clinical depression, its traveling partner, anxiety, and the end-of-life horror of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and other dementias. Older adults with dementia are confined to skilled nursing warehouses, wandering hopelessly in their memoryless journey to death. Psychiatrists, physicians, and therapists often seem little more than witch doctors in white coats with mountains of pills to dispense, tablets that supply little more help than placebos.
There is hope, however, in recently published research using hallucinogenic compounds. Clinical researchers are providing discoveries demonstrating psychedelic compounds can improve neuronal connectivity, stimulate neurogenesis, reinstate brain plasticity, decrease inflammation, and improve cognition. Research is in its adolescence, though, and it is not time to dial into the dark web and self-prescribe.
Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) is a compound first synthesized in 1938. It is an ergot alkaloid extracted from the rye fungus Claviceps Purpurea.
The politically inspired War on Drugs, started by President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s, effectively stopped all clinical LSD research. LSD is not just a recreational drug; the compound may be another tool to help resolve depression and treat other conditions. Scientists in the United States have only recently restarted clinical LSD research. This exploration is in its early stages but points to LSD as a potential agent to encourage neurogenesis, the growth of nerve cells, in the human brain.
Stress and depression, as well as other psychiatric illnesses, cause structural changes in the human brain. These alterations result from atrophy and loss of neurons and glia in specific limbic regions. Dendritic loss in neurons is a common feature of stress-related psychiatric disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and drug addiction.
Depression is associated with structural alterations in brain zones that manage mood and emotion. Animal studies of chronic stress and postmortem examinations of brain tissue from depressed human subjects show atrophy and loss of neurons and glial cells. These findings suggest that depression and stress-related mood disorders may be neurodegenerative ailments. Eliminating stress and the administration of conventional antidepressants can block and even reverse the progression of these structural alterations.
The logic of using LSD to reverse brain atrophy and improve neurologic conditions is captivating. For example, if depression causes the atrophy of specific brain parts, then changing that process could be the answer or at least a part of a solution. That logic, however, requires a lot of assumptions, and those assumptions might well be only partially valid. Moreover, the compound is poorly understood clinically, and research is, at best, in its preliminary stages.
Psychoplastogens, small molecules capable of rapidly encouraging cortical neuron growth, have been posited to cause beneficial effects on behavior by mending these changes. LSD, a psychoplastogen, may promote sustained growth of cortical neurons, even after limited treatment.
Modern-day studies in the United Kingdom and Switzerland include neuroimaging studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). LSD administration is associated with extensive alterations in functional brain connectivity, measuring the activities between different brain parts. These results agree with theories that mind-altering treatments exercise their effects by impeding the cerebral sorting of external and internal data.
Taking low doses of LSD, called microdosing, has hit mainstream conversation. A microdose is a sub-threshold dose, meaning it's on the threshold of feeling. Microdosers aim to brighten their mood and increase cognitive abilities, not to feel 'high.' Unfortunately, there is no consensus on what constitutes a microdose, and the subjective and perceptual effects of weighted doses are anecdotal and so problematic.
Positive or negative empirical results about microdosing are debatable, as studies involve only a limited number of doses and have fundamental flaws in their design and the resultant data.
The continued criminalization of psychedelics for public health reasons appears without support. Despite anti-drug propagandists' attempts to foul the image of hallucinogens, they seem strangely safe. A recent population study of 130,000 adults in the United States failed to find evidence for a link between hallucinogenic use and mental health problems.
Lifetime psychedelic use was associated with significantly reduced odds of past-month psychological suffering, past-year suicidal thinking, past-year suicidal preparation, and past-year suicide effort. In contrast, lifetime illicit use of other drugs was primarily associated with an increased likelihood of these outcomes. These findings provide evidence that psychedelics are not causal elements in suicide and mental health issues, contrary to commonly held beliefs.
The mechanism of AD includes the presence of amyloid-β and tau deposition in the brain, hippocampal atrophy, and heightened rates of hippocampal degeneration over time. In AD, there is a reduction in global brain glucose metabolism in frontal and temporal-parietal areas. In addition, all known genetic and environmental risk factors for AD are associated with increased inflammation, suggesting that reducing inflammation could be a target for preventing AD.
Early on, researchers understood psychedelics could be helpful agents for dealing with dementia. As a result, pharmaceutical companies developed ergot alkaloids to help mental recognition and other symptoms related to AD. Medical practitioners prescribe the FDA-approved ergot-derived drug ergoloid mesylates (Hydergine®), which confers minor improvements in AD treatment. In addition, physicians use Nicergoline (Sermion®), another ergoline alkaloid, to treat dementia. Ergot alkaloids are assumed to enhance the blood flow to the brain and modulate the neurotransmitter function.
Recent research findings are fascinating and provide compelling evidence for more detailed research. This research may result in clinical breakthroughs to help treat and possibly resolve debilitating psychiatric conditions. LSD and similar hallucinogens appear to provide little risk when used recreationally, and decriminalization likely provides little public health risk. Regardless, empirical research is in its infancy, and the self-administration of these compounds to treat complicated clinical conditions is ill-advised.
6/26/2022 0 Comments
There is a ‘pink tide’ in Latin America. The pink tide is a massive new wave of socialism with climate justice at its core, and it aims to transform the economies and lives. Colombia recently elected its first left-wing President, former Bogota Mayor and Senator Gustavo Petro. Petro gained power through the long-term development of grassroots connections with under-empowered demographic groups and added to the ‘pink wave’ movement in Latin America. This poses the possibility for significant changes in South and Central America
Colombia fast facts:
Colombia has long suffered some of the most dramatic income and wealth disparities. The Income share held by the lowest 10% of the country is less than 1%, while the top 10% has a 42% share. More than one-third of its population lives below the poverty line.
Despite immense resources, Colombia’s gross domestic product per capita has remained static and significantly dropped during the COVID pandemic. The combination of young people's high unemployment, the dramatic wealth disparities, and the pandemic's effects immensely helped the country's civil unrest.
Another critical piece in the movement left in Colombia came in 2019 when President Duque proposed dropping the minimum wage for workers under 25 years old. Protestors formed a national strike that stopped commerce. Strikes and protests continued through the COVID pandemic. In 2021 the federal government proposed higher taxes and ignited even more public outrage. People demanded better education, public transportation, and healthcare.
According to the United Nations, the Colombian government responded with violence, murdering at least 44 protesters and injuring hundreds more. Non-State armed groups killed 255 people in 66 massacres in Colombia in 2020 and killed 120 human rights defenders. While the federal government was not directly responsible for these attacks on indigenous and other under-empowered groups, the United Nations claimed they had not done enough to mitigate them.
Former Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro and his vice president, environmental activist Felicia Marquez recently became Colombia’s first left-wing, progressive leaders. The election had the highest turnout in Colombian history. However, their election was not an outlier. Years of grassroots organizing and coalition construction preceded. The campaign proposals by Petro were still relatively modest, featuring tax reform to provide the government with more money for its education and health systems, along with ending Colombia’s fossil fuel needs through a ‘just energy transition.’
Grassroots organizing and coalition building overcame the immense inertia of the right-wing establishment. Petro’s rivals highlighted his past involvement in the M19 rebel group, which demobilized in the 1990s, as a smear tactic. They attempted to characterize him as a buffoon unprepared for the office. Regardless, Petro and Marquez built strong ties with Indigenous communities, Afro-Colombians, peasants, women, gender-diverse people, and other repressed subgroups and won the office.
Petro and Marquez’ election win will be an immense change in Colombia and throughout Latin America for several reasons. One of Petro’s major platform items was his intention to make Colombia central in the global fight against climate change. He also focused on proposals to better the living standards of Colombians, and another environmental item, preserving the Amazon rainforest.
Petro encourages other progressive leaders in Latin America to make ending their countries’ dependence on fossil fuels a part of their agendas and interlace it with economic and social justice. Petro calls for banning unconventional oil fields, fracking, and offshore oil wells and ending all fossil fuel exploration.
All these actions are integral to the just energy concept. This just energy transition that Colombia will try to implement provides environmental movements across Latin America and the remainder of the world with a model to adapt to their efforts.
The inertia of a moribund economy and the other existing factors will undoubtedly be impossible for Petro’s government to overcome other than incrementally. Pundits might toss around overworn phrases such as facing significant headwinds. Regardless, the overall movement of Latin America is following a story arc like the development of liberal democracies in European history. Undoubtedly these movements will act to diminish the influence of the United States in the region, which is likely an excellent thing for Latin America. Conversely, it is not such a good thing for the United States.
Arguably, when the United States headed to the Middle East for its forever wars, its attention to Latin America waned. In the meantime, Latin America has diversified trade partners and invited China as its banker and natural resource development partner in many instances. Changing that, if possible at this point, would involve heightening attention and connections for a similar twenty-year period to pay off. But, with the United States currently in a revolution and turmoil at home, it’s doubtful in the twilight of its empire that it will make that effort.
6/19/2022 0 Comments
In the hangover from Father’s Day, where whisky distillers and restaurants count their cash, one wonders what corporate madman created this series of imaginary obligations. Much loathed by the reasonable and especially introverted populations, such now seem to be noticed only if not celebrated, or at least not enthusiastically enough. Perhaps a better approach is to honor all we respect in our thoughts and actions and toss such corporate rubbish in the dustbin.
Few Americans haven’t fidgeted, waiting for an hour in line, to take Mom or Dad out to dinner on their designated day, or suffered through a horrid hour with a pompous and incompetent boss for a gratuitous and often obsequious lunch on Boss’s Day. As these holidays proliferate the question often isn’t the joy they create but the misery they incur as the unremembered feel even more lonely and disheveled than before they occurred. They seem to be something to be dreaded, and an unnecessary tax on resources as well as a diminution of authentic affection.
A Hallmark holiday is a holiday created or promoted primarily to make money on things sold as part of its observance, such as greeting cards, beer, balloons, candy, and various other consumer goods. The name comes from Hallmark Cards, an old American company, that reaps the cash from such ersatz events through sales of sentimental cards and other items like balloons, fruit sculpture flowers, cakes, and sweets.
Such holidays range from the relatively innocuous such as Mother’s Day, to the irritating, like Boss’s Day, to the cloyingly sweet Sweetest Day. The term is not always a pejorative of Hallmark but often rather all the industries who promote and profit, such as the National Football League, from these phony celebrations.
Actual holidays such as Kwanzaa, Independence Day, Memorial Day, or Thanksgiving, are deeply rooted in American or religious traditions, and are federal holidays. Such range from occasions calling for strong drink to enjoyable events for at least some of those people involved.
The ‘Hallmark holidays’ list:
Aside from the well-known term Hallmark holiday, there is another time set-aside trend, and that’s the month designations. Those on the moral highroad have seized these months as they purport to aim to honor ethnic, sexual, and racial subpopulations. Yet one is prone to wonder how much good National Disability Employment Awareness Month does for disabled people, or if it’s just a poster for the Human Resources professional to tape in the lunchroom. A federal law strengthening equal access requirements for disabled people would be undoubtedly much more effective, although the human resources professional might have to scramble for replacement corporate propaganda.
As of now, these Hallmark months include:
Perhaps thoughtful people might seize the as-yet unmonikered months January, July, August, and December, and name them before more book clubs fill their required monthly reading lists with culturally relevant required reading.
Possible nominations include:
The real lesson is honoring people is a daily action not an annual event, and it seems impossible to point at much, if any, net benefit from days or months designated by others, often for their own profit, in an antidemocratic process.
6/12/2022 0 Comments
Herschel Walker, chosen by Donald Trump, and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, suit up for a Senate race in Georgia that will likely determine which political party runs the United States Senate. Two African American men running for national office in the deep South is unusual enough. Add lots of unsavory details about Walker’s life, millions of dollars of dark money from both sides funding attack ads, and a close race, and one has a fascinating matchup with immense consequences. Polling data for the race indicate it’s a coin toss, with the average volatility associated with statewide races early in contests.
Raphael Warnock graduated from Morehouse College, earned a Ph.D., and became an ordained Christian minister. For more than 15 years, Warnock was Senior Pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, formerly held by the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Warnock narrowly won the Georgia Senate seat in a January 2021 runoff election for the remaining two years of his predecessor’s term. Warnock comes across as calm, articulate, and astute and can turn on the charisma when he needs it, giving him a good asset in debates and television appearances and speeches.
Herschel Walker was a star football player at the University of Georgia, then went on to a lackluster career in the National Football League and in the United States Football League. Walker met Donald Trump when he played for a team Donald Trump owned, the New Jersey Generals. After football, Walker parlayed his football fame into business endeavors, with far from perfect results. Trump urged Walker to run, and Walker moved to Georgia from Texas to pursue the seat.
Walker’s pitch is he’s a non-politician, an outsider, and inspired by God. Walker claims God is his general manager, coach, and quarterback. Walker is not ready to cede God’s will to his opponent, even if he’s a Christian preacher. Walker is articulate, soft-spoken, and likable, and with his football pedigree, he is a state hero and will ride that horse to the finish line.
Liberal tribal media will harp on Walker’s idiosyncrasies, many failures in business, and credible allegations of domestic violence, all problems Donald Trump shrugged aside. Walker hopes to catch that same lightning in a bottle in his race.
Quick Georgia facts:
Given the relatively high African American percentage of about 32% of the population, race will be the central issue in this campaign. The Republicans, led by Donald Trump, groomed Walker as their candidate, with the unspoken goal of peeling off enough of the African American vote to make the difference in a close race. Their reasoning, at initial investigation, appears valid, but a deeper analysis reveals some fatal flaws. The most prominent is Walker’s apparent denial racism exists, as he maintains civil rights leaders and politicians in general wish to separate people for some unexplained reason.
One is prone to speculate that reasoning won’t resonate with African American voters, who have experienced racism’s uglier side all their lives. But instead, Walker’s hazard is African American voters coming to view him as a tool of the white establishment, resulting in his rejection by the same cohort he desperately needs to penetrate to win the seat.
Walker’s other issues are manifold. A recent investigative report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution detailed Walker’s history of business failures, litigation, and misrepresentations. Walker also has numerous credible allegations of domestic violence, to which he has affirmed responsibility. Whether this acknowledgment will immunize him from damage is unknown.
Walker’s biggest weakness is his absolute lack of charisma. He’s heavy on reading from his teleprompter, and his campaign is about God and football, with a bit of anti-environmentalism and anti-immigrant xenophobia. Audiences seem to enjoy the reminiscence of Walker’s glory days in football, and God plays well in the deep South, but Walker’s delivery lacks fire. He seems more funeral director than preacher in his delivery, which will hurt him in the race, particularly in contrast to Warnock.
Warnock’s strategy is to attack Walker on his somewhat spotty business record and his habit of making rather unusual statements. Early in June, Warnock dropped an attack ad featuring footage of Walker promoting a product to prevent covid. Warnock’s error may be in tagging his opponent as a mentally deranged white-wing wingnut. Even if the characterizations contain some element of truth, the strategy could backfire as voters grow to know Walker as a more reasonable person.
In a larger framework, there is no national race to bolster turnout. While this will affect both candidates, it likely will damage Walker more, as Trump voters will be less likely to turn out without their prophet at the top of the ticket.
Add to that the governor’s race, where the incumbent, Brian Kemp, squares off against Stacey Abrams, a transformational political figure, both bold and articulate. Abrams will bring white progressives, traditional liberals, and African Americans in a gutter fight rematch that was close last time. And Abrams is all about race, racism, voting rights, and progressivism. On the other hand, Kemp, a traditional Southern conservative Republican, is no favorite of the Trump crowd, as he declined to climb onto the Trump election lie bandwagon in the 2020 election.
Money status for the candidates as of early May 2022:
Warnock has much more cash on hand, and although that can change, Warnock will likely continue to be able to outspend Walker. In addition, Warnock can rely on dark money PACs for smear ads on Walker, harping on mental health issues, his domestic violence history, and spotty business record.
Walker will undoubtedly continue with God, football, and xenophobia, blaming Warnock for high gas prices and hordes of criminals laden with drugs coming across the border. Walker will have a tough time being more religious than Warnock, who has real credibility in the area as opposed to Walker's cross-hugging old-school rhetoric.
An unspoken unknown is how much Walker’s presence at the top of the Georgia ballot will suppress the white vote, representing about 60% of the population of Georgia. Georgia, a former Confederate state, has robust elements of racist traditions. There are undoubtedly some percentages of white voters who wouldn’t vote for Jesus Christ if he was black, let alone a mortal. Walker has a more significant hill to climb in the white cohort than the African American contingent because he can’t afford a reduced turnout among the white Republican base voters.
The ground game appears to favor Warnock. Walker has a checkered past, and more unsavory information likely will come out about him as time goes by. Warnock has been in the public eye for a long time, and if there were distasteful unknowns, they would already be public. Walker also is thin on policy and substantive governance knowledge, which would be evident in a debate. Whether Walker will accede to such is unknown, but one might speculate he would only if compelled by unfavorable polling data. Warnock also has money to spend Walker into oblivion, and in a close race, that’s critical.
6/5/2022 1 Comment
American exceptionalism denies a lot, including the country’s racism, capital punishment, state-sponsored assassinations, covert surveillance in violation of domestic and international law, and the most considerable stain on its reputation, its criminal justice system. While the American press is scrupulous in satisfying its corporate masters with stories of the depravity of overseas governments, it seldom looks into the mirror at its own fatally flawed punitive penal system. Legendarily inefficient, America’s prisons are little more than holding pens, training grounds for future crime, and places for the state to park political prisoners. The case of Ruchell Cinque Magee, America’s longest-held political prisoner, illustrates the point.
Magee grew up in Louisiana. At the age of 16, in 1955, the courts convicted him in 1955 of attempted aggravated rape. His crime, it seems, was having a relationship with a white girl in Jim Crow South. For framework, Magee’s conviction occurred at about the same time as racists lynched Emmett Till in Money, Mississippi., for supposedly whistling at a white woman. Louisiana threw the book at Magee and sentenced him to eight years in Angola State Prison, a nightmare of a facility even by the standards of southern prisons. Louisiana released him from Angola in 1963, and Magee went to Los Angeles, California, hoping for a better future.
California authorities arrested Magee shortly after he arrived, following a disagreement with someone about a $10 bag of cannabis. Cannabis is now legal in that state and many others. Ruchell and his cousin Leroy sat with a man named Ben Brown in Brown’s car. Brown told police that Ruchell and his cousin had kidnapped him in a quarrel over a $10 sack of weed. Police beat Magee so severely he spent three days in the hospital. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County sentenced Magee to seven years to life in prison for the charge of attempting to kidnap someone to commit robbery for that $10 dispute.
Magee became interested in history and politics during his incarceration. He added the middle name of Cinque after the African freedom fighter Cinqué, who instigated a rebellion on the slave ship La Amistad. Magee said, ‘Slavery 400 years ago, slavery today — it’s the same but with a new name.’ Magee used his self-education behind bars to become a ‘jailhouse lawyer,’ prison lingo for inmates who write and file court challenges on other peoples’ behalf. Magee filed a wrongful death lawsuit and helped win a significant settlement for the family of Fred Billingsley, who was tear-gassed and beaten to death by San Quentin guards in his cell in February 1970.
Magee remains incarcerated because he tried to help to free three men George Jackson, John Clutchette, and Fleeta Drumgo, known as the Soledad Brothers, in 1970. In August 1970, at a hearing in a Marin County California court, Jonathan Jackson, the 17-year-old brother of George Jackson, entered, armed with guns, intent on negotiating the release of the Soledad Brothers. Instead, the state had charged them with killing a guard at Soledad State Prison, notoriously known for murders and brutality against inmates.
Three prisoners, William Christmas, James McClain, and Magee, who were coincidentally in the courtroom, joined in an escape attempt. Ruchell was there to testify on behalf of a fellow prisoner, James McClain, charged with assaulting a correctional officer in retaliation for Billingsley’s murder. Jackson and the three prisoners took several hostages, including Judge Harold Haley, Deputy District Attorney Gary Thomas, and three jurors, and attempted to escape in a van. Police shot at the van, killing everyone but Magee and Thomas.
The event received a great deal of press coverage, as did the subsequent fugitive hunt and trial of Angela Davis, a former assistant professor from UCLA who was involved with George Jackson, Jonathan Jackson, and the Black Panthers.
Magee conducted a political trial that challenged the prison system, likening it to slavery, and advocated for his right to fight for freedom like Cinque's. Magee’s co-defendant Angela Davis, charged with purchasing the weapons, had a much different legal strategy and separated the cases. Magee defended himself pro se or without legal counsel.
As Magee was a prior felon based on his ‘aggravated attempted rape conviction in Louisiana, the court sentenced him to life in prison under California’s indeterminate sentencing law. He has been eligible for parole since January 1981, and the state’s Board of Parole Hearings again denied him parole in July 2021. Magee is next due for a parole hearing in 2024. Born in 1939, he is now 83 years old, having served over 58 years in prison. Magee remains at the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, California. Davis has made a living as a professor and public intellectual.
Removed from a political framework, the incarceration of Magee seems fruitless for both him and society. The costs of jailing a person for a lifetime are immense, and society's benefits seem negligible. Deterrence also seems meaningless as very few people now know Magee’s name, let alone the details of his case. Instead, this story illustrates the simply punitive nature of the American prison industrial complex, where men live caged forever, with no ambition for any rehabilitation and return to a productive life. Alas, the United States repeats this story with ruined lives and destroyed families, with no aspiration for improvement.
As politicians race to become more ‘tough on crime’ in the midterm elections' run-up, it’s important to remember old lessons. All the previous efforts to get ‘tough on crime’ such as the ‘War on Drugs’ and the three-strikes rules, were unsuccessful in doing anything other than ruining lives and increasing overall misery.
5/30/2022 2 Comments
The incidence of serial killings has declined, but mass shootings have risen. While many people theorize significant differences between the two groups, the similarities are striking. There are valuable lessons from how law enforcement reacted to serial killers that are easily translatable to managing mass shooters. Unfortunately, the United States seems so stuck in tribal gridlock that solutions seem impossible.
The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines serial killing as the unlawful killing of two or more victims by the same offender(s) in separate events. Serial killers and mass murderers both kill multiple people, but serial killers allow time to elapse before killing again. Mass murderers, by contrast, commit all their murders in a brief, one-time event. School shooters are mass murderers, not serial killers.
The psychological finding is the serial killer has an overpowering need to exercise power over others. Serial killing numbers increased over several decades per an overall rise in crime rates. Similarly, the subsequent fall in serial killings followed the slope of the decrease in crime rates.
The criminal justice system rarely serial killers legally insane, although it’s hard to fathom how someone who commits these crimes contains any molecule of sanity. The most constant psychological trait among serial killers appears to be highly antisocial conduct. They seem incapable of sorrow for their acts, operate outside the law and societal norms, lack empathy for their victims and seek vengeance against individuals or society through their outrageous crimes.
Fascinating facts about serial killers:
Psychologists describe a sequence of stages in the cycle of serial killers:
Some experts theorize that advances in forensic investigation, especially DNA testing, have resulted in the decline in serial killers. Police have apprehended about thirty murderers and rapists (and counting) by combining genetic testing and public genealogy site DNA data. One of the most recent examples is police charging the Golden State Killer, Joseph DeAngelo, many decades after he slaughtered 12 women between 1976 and 1986.
The resultant higher prospect of arrest might help the decline, although one can question how much that might affect someone compelled to take another person’s life. In the United States, police clear only about 60% of all homicides, although serial killing has some characteristics that make those particular maniacs easier to arrest. For example, serial killers tend to use the same method of operation, operate near their homes, and choose similar victims so they are easier to identify. That, combined with DNA evidence, often solves these horrid crimes.
A more significant factor in reducing serial killers is more prolonged prison sentences and reductions in parole over time. If the criminal justice system arrested potential serial killers earlier and imprisoned them longer, they would have less time in public to kill again and would be much older upon release. The reduction is likely the result of the factors mentioned above, plus education and public awareness.
Mass shooters have similar characteristics to serial killers and some significant differences. Some criminologists surmise serial killers morphed into mass shooters, an awful lot who have grown as the numbers of serial killers have declined. Indeed, they share similar traits but have significant disparities.
A quick look at mass shooter characteristics:
Several organizations collect data on mass shootings, but there is no federal definition for this category. As a result, the United States government does not publish specific segregated data. Instead, the nongovernmental databases track frequency, deaths, injuries, and perpetrator information, but the databases define mass shooters differently, rendering comparisons problematic.
This creates a considerable problem in governance and public health. Policymakers, working with imperfect and sometimes contradictory data, have found it challenging to arrive at authoritative conclusions about how to mitigate the problem. For society to alleviate the problem, it needs to define it, collect data, and analyze it.
In addition, the ‘gun rights’ single-issue political and culture war has resulted in predictable cycles of outrage and scorn, seemingly staged for media consumption, followed by inaction. The confluence of cloudy data, limited understanding of the mental health issues, and media and political engagement in culture wars result in the current unfortunate situation.
A huge problem is the lack of detailed psychological analysis of mass murderers. The criminal justice system diverts them into the prison-industrial complex for execution or lifetime incarceration, a terrible waste of potential information necessary to inform prevention and diversion. Detailed examination of these people using various tools would provide researchers with the required evidence to understand the problem.
Finally, the federal government providing a firm definition of mass shootings followed by an exhaustive classification of past events would be invaluable to researchers and allow for a more informed discussion based on facts. In addition, results would help drive early intervention rather than reactive hand wringing after massacres.
5/22/2022 1 Comment
Hidden in those lovely suburban homes is a seething cauldron of sexual strangeness, the unspoken and sometimes the unspeakable. Human sexuality ranges from innocent consensual activities to the foulest of crimes; human sexuality is as complex as the human species. And nothing is creepier and more fascinating than bizarre sexual behavior psychiatrists call paraphilia and its subset of oddness, sexual fetishes.
What constitutes normal sexual behavior? There is no forthright riposte. What is normal in one culture at one time can be outrageous or illegal in another. Various governments have made some everyday sexual activities criminal until very recently. Some coercive sexual behaviors, like pedophilia, are so unspeakably deviant all reasonable societies ban them and imprison perpetrators.
Paraphilias are persistent and recurrent sexual interests, urges, fantasies, or behaviors of marked intensity involving objects, activities, or atypical situations. Although not innately pathological, a paraphilic disorder can evolve if paraphilia invokes harm, distress, or functional impairment in the lives of the affected individual or others.
The (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5) delineates eight paraphilias:
The percentage of the population that experience paraphilic behaviors is tough to discern because much of the scientific literature consists of case studies rather than broad surveys. Paraphilias, including fetishism, are correlated with general psychosocial impairment, including physical abuse, lower educational attainment, inpatient admissions for mental health and substance abuse treatment, disability, unemployment, criminal justice system involvement, and increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases infections, and comorbid mental health problems.
The onset of paraphilic behaviors occurs during early adolescence through various physical, psychological, and social factors. The behaviors usually reach full bloom by the age of 20 years. Paraphilias are male-dominated as at least 90% of all those people affected are men. Why this is the case is unknown, but one might suspect as society accepts women and their sexual agency, fetishism among women might rise. Research also indicates that some paraphilias appear to be more common than others. Coercion is often central to paraphilias. Some paraphiliacs enjoy their forbidden pleasures alone, and others include consensual adults who participate in, watch, or abide by the activity.
Then there are those to whom an object or body part has the power to captivate all attention. Fetishistic disorder is a clinical diagnosis assigned to people who experience sexual arousal from objects or a specific part of the body that people typically do not regard as erotic. Almost any body part or object can be a fetish. The DSM-5 notes that fetishistic disorder typically emerges at the onset of puberty and rarely before adolescence. In addition, the severity of the disorder can wax and wane over the lifespan.
Sexual fetishism includes hundreds of micro-fetish categories. Fetishes refer to obtaining sexual excitement primarily or exclusively from an object or a part of the body not typically regarded as sexual. There’s also situational fetishism, where certain things must occur for the fetishist to become excited such as roles or situations like a fetishist fixating on a partner smoking during sex.
Some of the stranger sexual fetishes:
There’s a bit of a gray zone in society’s definitions of fetishes. For example, society regards a sexual attraction to feet as a fetish, while attraction to breasts is a ‘normal’ component of sex. Types of fetishes are often a function of sexual orientation. Heterosexual men tend toward high-heeled shoes, lingerie, and hosiery. Among gay men, fetishistic objects tend to be highly masculine.
Fetishists, almost always male, have difficulty orgasming without the fetish item. Fetishes are not disorders unless the fetishistic behaviors cause adverse outcomes or psychological problems for fetishists. Scientific research confirms the most common body fetishes are for feet, hands, and hair and that the most prevalent fetish objects are shoes, gloves, and used underwear. Fetishes rarely develop into an offense that harms anyone, although crimes may include theft (of underwear) or cutting hair from an unwilling victim.
Suppose the etiology of a fetish is a learned behavior. In that case, cognitive behavioral therapy using gradual exposure to the fetishistic object combined with a neutral response, rather than a sexual response, may help lower or eliminate sexual arousal associated with an object.
While the world of sexual oddness can be fascinating from the observation standpoint, people with unusual sexualities such as paraphilias and fetishes likely lead very lonely and unfulfilling lives. Isolation and fears of societal backlash seem needless in consensual and legal sexual activities. Regardless, more research into the prevalence and causes will help those afflicted with such needs and their partners.
5/15/2022 1 Comment
Infotainment, also known as Hate, Inc., makes money off hate, and it doesn’t matter what brand it is. That these major networks are all conglomerates and their ‘journalism’ is political propaganda wrapped about a few facts intended to attract members of their respective political tribes seems lost on the viewers. Still, a recent concept called the Great Replacement Theory, promoted on national right-wing broadcasts, and spewed by hatemasters in the Hateosphere, seems to be the proximate motivation for the newest wave of mass murderers. How many more people will die at the hands of radicalized shooters before people quit making money from sponsoring this concept?
The ‘Great Replacement’ theory is a racist polemic making the case that unseen forces are deliberately ‘replacing’ white European populations by encouraging immigration and the growth of minority communities. This theory rests on demographic projections showing Caucasian people are becoming a minority group. The Great Replacement is a relatively new term rebranding old-fashioned racism and nativism. A French writer named Renaud Camus first used the term ‘Great Replacement’ in his 2011 book entitled Le Grand Remplacement (The Great Replacement).
The theory focuses on the premise that growing populations of immigrants (read brown people) marginalize white people. This thinking is as old as immigration, and the Great Replacement theory is just a rebranding with a fancy and less loathsome name. Recently the term has become common in extreme-right groups, a philosophical duct tape binding together an extremist minority of the population.
No one will mistake Tucker Carlson as much more than a gasbag making money off hate. The idea Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, or Scott Perry are much more than political entrepreneurs begs credulity. Still, the repackaged ethnocentric philosophy makes inroads into the United States population. About 1 in 3 U.S. adults accept as accurate that there is an effort to exchange United States-born Americans with immigrants for election advantages. Republicans appear to be slightly more likely than Democrats to fear a loss of influence because of immigration at 36% to 27%.
Unfortunately, the Great Replacement theory has become a centerpiece of America's newest form of toxicity, the racist mass murderer. A generation or two ago, the great mass murderers tended to be serial killers, such as Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Wayne Williams, John Wayne Gacy, and the like. The new breed is mass shooters who surprise attack in churches, theaters, grocery stores, and other public places. Although these deranged folks have numerous ideological beliefs, many have cited the Great Replacement as their motivation.
Terrorist Robert Bowers committed a domestic terrorist mass shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in October 2018, killing 11 people and injuring seven. The shooting is the deadliest attack on the United States Jewish community. Bowers believed the Jews were helping the ‘invaders.’
Brenton Tarrant killed 51 and wounded another 40 churchgoers at two mosques in a terrorist attack on Christchurch Mosques in New Zealand in March 2019. Tarrant live-streamed the shooting over Facebook. In addition, Tarrant published a manifesto where he referenced ‘the Great Replacement’ as his motivation for the attack.
Terrorist Paul Crusius walked into a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, in August 2019, shooting, killing 22 people, and injuring 24 more. His motive was stopping a ‘Hispanic invasion’ of Texas.
The most recent mass murderer in the Great Replacement portfolio is 18-year-old Payton Gendron, the alleged perpetrator of a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York. Gendron allegedly killed ten people and injured three more. Eleven of the 13 people shot were African American. The alleged perpetrator, 18-year-old Payton Gendron, produced a 180-page work referencing the Great Replacement and lifted much of the text from Brenton Tarrant’s manifesto.
Politicians and Infotainment entrepreneurs are helping the Great Replacement narrative through references to the conspiracy theory in their speeches, social media posts, and policies.
Perhaps the most prominent right-wing media performer, Tucker Carlson, has led the invective. ‘I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement,’ if you suggest for the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World,’ said Tucker Carlson in April 2021. ‘But they become hysterical because that’s what’s happening, actually.’ Then, in September 2021, Carlson reinforced his loathsome beliefs. ‘In political terms, this policy is called the great replacement, the replacement of legacy Americans with more obedient people from faraway countries.’
Congressperson Matt Gaetz of Florida, always quick to collect some attention from controversy, tweeted that Carlson was ‘CORRECT about Replacement Theory as he explains what is happening to America.’
‘For many Americans,’ Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) said in a Congressional hearing in April 2021, ‘what seems to be happening or what they believe right now is happening is, what appears to them is we’re replacing national-born American — native-born Americans to permanently transform the political landscape of this very nation.’
Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Congressperson who bears a remarkable resemblance to Miss Piggy of Muppets fame, shared a video in 2018 repeating the anti-Semitic claim that ‘Zionist supremacists’ are conspiring to flood Europe with migrants to replace the white populations there.
J.D. Vance, a right-wing ideologue running for the United States senate in Ohio, recently piled onto the hatewagon. ‘Biden’s open border is killing Ohioans,’ says his campaign ad ‘with more illegal drugs and more Democrat voters pouring into this country.’
Newt Gingrich, a serial adulterer who once served divorce papers to his wife recovering in a hospital following a mastectomy, and right-wing former Speaker of the House, promoted replacement theory on Fox News in August 2021. Gingrich dog whistled the ‘radical left’ wants to ‘get rid of the rest of us’ and would ‘love to drown traditional, classic Americans with as many people as they can who know nothing of American history, nothing of American tradition, nothing of the rule of law.’
Classic conspiracy theory formulas such as the Great Replacement consist of an unseen manipulative group intent on some end goal for nefarious ends. The problem is that conspiracy theories often make fundamental sense when closely examined.
The Great Replacement is no outlier in this formula. It is full of flaws in fact and logic that make it untenable:
People who forward dangerous ideologies have some ethical considerations. For instance, people who promulgated and substantiated the Great Replacement theory have some link to the consumers. And this ideology provided some of the impetus and philosophical bulwark for the people who committed these atrocities. The platforms that provided this information also bear some guilt, although making a criminal case against them, once again, seems impossible.
To suggest a moral reckoning seems as likely as the Ghost of Christmas Future visiting. The pundits make money inspiring hatred, politicians gain office and make even more money, and social media platforms, their employees, and all their stockholders make cash. The only people who suffer, unfortunately, are the populace.
While the United States is well into a Christian Nationalist revolution, the Republic of Ireland (Ireland) has transcended from a theocracy into a secular liberal democracy. Through this process, the economy of Ireland has bloomed. The story of Ireland offers significant lessons for the future of America.
Ireland moved from a theocracy to a secular state through many jumps. The excesses of the Catholic Church in Ireland and the remainder of the world are legend, including labor exploitation, cruelty to children and unwed mothers, the dominance of all systems of government, and child rape, among other horrid crimes.
Most experts attribute the move toward a secular government and the removal of church-dictated laws to the backlash against these crimes. Undoubtedly there are other reasons for the dramatic transformation of this society from one of the more repressive religion-dominated governments to a progressive and inclusive community. But, regardless of the cause, Ireland has bloomed into an inclusive society that refutes outmoded Christian bigotry’s role in governance.
Under the same Government of Ireland Act of 1920 that created the Irish Free State, the British created the Parliament of Northern Ireland. The Parliament consisted of Protestants who helped install a system of systematic discrimination against Catholics. The irrationality of two sects of Christianity at literal war seems surreal, but such appears to be a consistent tie among most religions.
Ireland became a theocracy because of the dominance of the Catholic Church hierarchies in its territory. As a result, the Catholics codified their beliefs into the civil law structure. Ireland is a parliamentary democracy. Ireland’s leaders promulgated its constitution in 1937 and allowed for amendments through referendums. The prime minister, who heads the cabinet, has executive authority.
It may seem bizarre, but until recently:
Recent changes to Ireland’s constitution have moved the Republic of Ireland from a theocracy to liberal secular democracy:
An excellent example of the opening of Irish society was the election of Leo Varadkar, an Irish-born man of Indian ancestry, to the position of During the campaign for the 2015 same-sex marriage referendum, Varadkar came out as gay, becoming the first serving Irish minister to do so.
Varadkar became Taoiseach, the Gaelic word for prime minister when he was 38 years old. He was the youngest person to hold the office. Varadkar was Ireland's first and the world's fourth, openly gay head of government and the first Taoiseach with Indian heritage.
Aside from the quality of life for all citizens, the move toward secular government is strongly correlated with economic growth. The primary economic growth measurements are gross domestic product (GDP) data. GDP measures the monetary value of final goods and services produced in a country. Per capita gross domestic product (GDP) measures a country's economic output per person. The gold standard for GDP data is the World Bank.
Ireland outstrips its geographically nearest political group, the United Kingdom, in GDP growth rates and per capita GDP. The United Kingdom is a country run by England, which controls Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. While the comparison is imperfect, the contrast, plus the incredible growth in the economy of Ireland, is impossible to deny. Ireland has transformed from a country of poor people run by an archaic set of moral codes to a liberal democracy that is now a destination rather than a place to flee.
The correlation of economic growth with progressive governance is impossible to deny. A recent study of seven states in the south-central part of the United States, including Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and West Virginia, confirmed they lagged the United States as a whole. From 1997 to 2019, these states cumulative had a GDP growth of 1.3% annually, compared to the United States rate of 2.3%, so they are falling farther behind the rest of the United States every year. After the end of Apartheid in South Africa, GDP growth rose to nearly 3% from 1.25% from 1980 to 1994.
Oddly, Ireland is the reverse of many of the changes in the United States. The rise of Christian Nationalism with its brethren white nationalism and conspiracy theory has helped move the United States from an emerging liberal society toward a theocracy led by Christian Nationalists. Recent events with an openly racist president highlight the changes in American society. Donald Trump appointed three openly Christian Nationalists to the United States Supreme Court. They will provide the necessary votes to overturn the right to abortion and continue to advocate for Christian causes.
While the theology of Christianity is benign and the faith traditions of the various Christian sects have some benefits to individuals and societies, Christian Nationalism is an awful movement. Christian Nationalists falsely assert that the founders of America were devout Christians, that they used Christian principles in developing the constitution, and the country must remain a ‘Christian nation.’ That’s mostly surrogacy for systemic racism and discrimination against anyone who varies from Christian normative values.
While some wish to dismiss this upcoming abortion ruling as a singular reversal, the Christian Nationalist majority on the court has four justices who arguably perjured themselves in confirmation hearings.
Clarence Thomas likely perjured himself in his denials of the credible Anita Hill sexual harassment allegations. Brett Kavanaugh appeared to lie under oath about credible allegations of attempted rape and his history of alcoholism and dissembling about his thoughts about abortion. Amy Coney Barrett and Neil Gorsuch both dissembled about their predispositions about abortion.
Their troubles with the truth will almost certainly extend to convolutions necessary to reverse progressive causes and rights in future court findings. While apologists look to isolate this as one particular moral issue, the Christian Nationalist majority on the court will truncate or dismantle much progressive legislation and truncate human rights.
As the Supreme Court weakens the federal government's power, repressive states controlled by Christian Nationalists will enact laws and informal methods to implement their views. Those will include restricting access to abortion, weakening labor protection, repressing minority voting, imprisoning more minorities, and further eroding human rights.
And like other repressive governments, the wealth in those states and the standard of living will continue to decline. One can envision a time not too distant when the young, talented, and diverse will leave these places, if possible, and seek a better future in a welcoming and diverse environment.
In culture wars, each side tends toward ad hominem arguments. These are easy ways to degenerate into emotional exchanges that nourish neither side and change no one’s mind or political orientation. Nevertheless, the empirical data conclude the inverse relationship between autocratic and repressive governance and economic growth. And economic growth is not only desirable but correlated with virtually every public health measurement.
Michael Donnelly investigates societal concerns with an untribal approach - to limit the discussion to the facts derived from primary sources so the reader can make more informed decisions.