Saturday, November 20, 2021

The Path of Whiteousness

The Spy's Religion Section

By Leo Frank
Religion Editor

Those appalled and offended by the spectacle of a white punk getting away with strapping on a lethal assault weapon during a protest against white supremacy, and then shooting and killing anyone who perceives him as a threat might be tempted to take consolation in religion.  Especially one of the religions that stress moral behavior, mercy, and peace.  You know, like Judaism, Islam, or Christianity.  Right?

Pump the brakes, Crusader.

It turns out that not all religions are, um, created equal.  Well, maybe they were created equal but some of them seem to have drifted a few leagues away from their professed ideals.

The recent election in Virginia has exposed the real face of what is normally described as white evangelical Christianity, according to The Washington Post:

Evangelical white Christianity at work

For decades, White evangelicals have gotten riled up over issues ranging from evolution to desegregation to prayer in schools, and in Virginia’s latest gubernatorial race, the culture wars in schools were front and center. Ahead of Election Day, Youngkin railed against critical race theory, often using CRT — an intellectual movement that examines the way policies and laws perpetuate systemic racism and is not part of the public school curriculum — as a way to describe schools’ efforts to teach children about race and racial disparities.

That message energized White evangelicals, who flocked to Youngkin.
The National Election Pool exit poll found Youngkin won White evangelicals by 89 percent — a higher percentage than President Donald Trump, who won White evangelicals in Virginia in 2020 by 80 percent.

Did you know that a core tenet of Christianity was covering up a 400-year history of white racism?  We didn't!

But perhaps that's due to our own ignorance, because white supremacy and unearned resentment has been baked into the white evangelical Twinkie for a very long time:

So what then were the real origins of the religious right? It turns out that the movement can trace its political roots back to a court ruling, but not Roe v. Wade.

In May 1969, a group of African-American parents in Holmes County, Mississippi, sued the Treasury Department to prevent three new whites-only K-12 private academies from securing full tax-exempt status, arguing that their discriminatory policies prevented them from being considered “charitable” institutions....

On June 30, 1971, the [Federal] Court...issued its ruling .... [upholding] the new IRS policy: “Under the Internal Revenue Code, properly construed, racially discriminatory private schools are not entitled to the Federal tax exemption provided for charitable, educational institutions,....”

The...ruling ... captured the attention of evangelical leaders, especially as the IRS began sending questionnaires to church-related “segregation academies,” including Falwell’s own Lynchburg Christian School, inquiring about their racial policies. Falwell was furious. “In some states,” he famously complained, “It’s easier to open a massage parlor than a Christian school.”

So the white evangelical movement was built on a hypocritical campaign to subvert school desegregation. Where in Christian Scripture is that?

We remember reading tons of happy horse***t about the Moral Majority in its heyday and we don't recall word one about how it was founded to advance and protect white racism.  It's almost like 30 years ago the media was afraid to call out white racism.  Isn't it great that those days are over?

The white evangelical mission of promoting white racism ought to be enough reason to deny it a legitimate position in American political life and discourse, but of course when entitled white people are allowed to run rampant without consequences, there's so much more, in addition to the body count in Kenosha.  Here's the views of one pardoned felon:

Christian soldier Gen. Michael Flynn

Former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn's call for "one religion" in the US to win the battle of good versus evil has garnered sharp backlash from a range of critics. Flynn, who was subpoenaed last week by the House select committee investigating the January 6 attack, made the comment during a speech to a conservative Christian audience on the ReAwaken America tour in Texas this weekend. "If we are going to have one nation under God, which we must, we have to have one religion," he said. "One nation under God and one religion under God, right? All of us, working together." His message -- the latest in a lengthy history of outlandish remarks -- appears to be an inflammatory contradiction of the First Amendment, which protects freedom of religion. Flynn has previously drawn backlash for controversial comments....

...[F]former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told CNN Sunday. ".... He is clearly unhinged here with this kind of public statement."

Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling, a national security analyst for CNN, similarly cast Flynn's remarks as "an embarrassment to the US Army & an aberration to those of us who have proudly worn the cloth of our country."

"His words are disgusting," Hertling said in a tweet.  

Outlandish?  Gen. Flynn, not known as a particular creative thinker, didn't make this s*** up. He's simply parroting a common view among white evangelicals known as “dominionism:” 

Though it’s seldom mentioned by name, it’s one of the major forces in Texas politics today: dominion theology, or dominionism. What began as a fringe evangelical sect in the 1970s has seen its influence mushroom — so much so that sociologist Sara Diamond has called dominionism “the central unifying ideology for the Christian Right.” (Italics hers.) That’s especially true here in Texas, where dominionist beliefs have, over the last decade, become part and parcel of right-wing politics at the highest levels of government.

So, what is it? Dominionism fundamentally opposes America’s venerable tradition of church-state separation — in fact, dominionists deny the Founders ever intended that separation in the first place. According to Frederick Clarkson, senior fellow for religious liberty at the non-profit social justice think tank Political Research Associates, dominionists believe that Christians “have a biblical mandate to control all earthly institutions — including government — until the second coming of Jesus.” And that should worry all Texans — Christians and non-Christians alike....

Top Texas political figures have had links to dominionism for years. In 2011, the Observer covered then-Governor Rick Perry’s ties to a branch of the movement, the New Apostolic Reformation. Since then, the relationship between dominionism and right-wing politics has become even cozier.

Case in point: Ted Cruz. Although Cruz is too politically savvy to openly endorse dominionism, key figures on his team are explicit dominionists.

The most important may be his father, evangelist Rafael Cruz, a frequent surrogate for Cruz on the political stage.
Is Cancun the Promised Land?  Ask Reb Cruz!

Cruz père espouses Seven Mountains Dominionism, which holds that Christians must take control of seven “mountains,” or areas of life: family, religion, education, media, entertainment, business and government.

Even this perversion of Christian doctrine does not teach that when your people are freezing in the dark, a true Christian runs off to Cancun, so Ted can't use that excuse. 

But here's the disturbing part: not only are these Christian dominionists intolerant, ant-democratic racists.  A good chunk of them are child abusing sadists.  Talia Lavin, who recently went incognito to expose the frightening world of the on-line reactionary insurrectionists in her book Culture Warlords, is back with her latest dispatch from the battle fronts of indecency:

The emergence of evangelicals as an active right-wing political force on the American scene came into full force over the subsequent decade, largely as a backlash to the civil-rights movement and school integration....

“In the last half-century, Conservative evangelicals were coalescing as this partisan political movement and coalescing around a particular cultural orientation, and childrearing is right at the center of that,” Kristin Kobes du Mez, historian...told me. “Out-of-control children were unravelling the social fabric of the country.... In the 1970s, disciplining children became thick with meaning in evangelical spaces, as part of this political mobilization but also more fundamentally as part of this oppositional cultural identity.”

By the 1990s, propelled by the success of Dare to Discipline and its sequels (The Strong-Willed Child, Temper Your Child’s Tantrums), Dobson’s ministry, Focus on the Family, was a media empire. Its radio programs, educational materials, and newsletters became, as du Mez puts it, “a fixture in the homes of tens of millions of Americans.”

Bring child abuse home for the holidays!

Legions of imitators followed, some more sadistic and others more faith-centric than Dobson’s unnervingly folksy persona. They continue to shape evangelical parenting culture by impressing the perils of “sparing the rod.” Dobson popularized a vision of parenting as a battle whose goal was the complete subjection of the child’s will, with pain a central tool in an ongoing spiritual war. His successors include Michael and Debi Pearl, whose work through No Greater Joy Ministries includes the infamous To Train Up A Child (1.2 million copies sold), a work that I can best describe as a child-abuse manual. There are also gurus like the pastor Tedd Tripp, whose Shepherding A Child’s Heart erases completely the line between physical abuse and parental love. Tens of millions of children have been raised with these principles, and this pain. At least three killings have been linked to the parenting doctrines of the Pearls: between 2006 and 2010, Sean Paddock, 4, Lydia Schatz, 7, and Hana Williams, 13, all died brutal deaths at the hands of parents who owned copies of To Train Up A Child. 

Jesus Christ!  Makes you wonder if all the Q-Anon bs about Hillary Clinton abusing children in the nonexistent basement of a Washington pizza parlor was as usual a projection. 

So what is to be done about Christian dominationists?  First, let's not pretend, like Sullen Sam Alito, they are acting on bona fide religious motives.  Let's not pretend they are either Moral or a Majority.  Let's not pretend that they are interested in “education” or “traditional values.”

While we're at it, let's make it clear that their values and views are bad, if not evil, and are unworthy of respect or political representation.

And for the sake of all that is good and holy, let's not blame progressives for failing to “reach out” to these violent hatemongers.

At least until they put down the AR-15's.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Do Not Forget the Greediest: The Plight of American Employers

The Spy's Report on Recovery

By Finance Editor Samuel Insull
and Labor Correspondent Joseph Hill

If it's a day ending in “-day,” it must be bad news for Biden. Never mind that any idiot who has invested in a vanilla stock market index fund has seen results like this since the election: 

Source: Morningstar

That a 36% rise in the stock market.  Also forget that since Inauguration, the shattered economy has added 5,600,000 jobs.

But a great wailing is heard in the land, at least according to The Washington Post:

Businesses have hired millions of American workers since April 2020, ... But workers have remained remarkably mobile, quitting jobs for a variety of reasons and often with little notice. Many businesses are so strapped to find and retain workers that they are dipping into budgets to offer higher pay and bonuses, creating the most worker-friendly labor market in recent history. 

Those mean workers! How dare they!

This crisis is usually described, including in the Post story, as a “labor shortage.”  It could also be described as a wage shortage, or a benefits shortage, or a childcare shortage, or a health and safety shortage, as we'll see.

Why are workers abandoning their strapped employers in their hour of greed? [Surely, need? – Ed.]  The Post piece actually provides a few clues, citing workers tired of endangering their health by being forced to work too close to unmasked unvaxxed colleagues or students.

Fortunately, the not-incompetent or corrupt Biden Administration has at least a partial fix: a new rule requiring large employers to institute a uniform test-or-vax mandate to protect workers from the occupational hazard of catching a fatal disease at work.  Problem solved.

Not so fast, Federalist Society breath.  A bent panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has stopped the rule from taking effect, in part on the grounds that the Administration's justification for the emergency rule is lacking:

“The mandate’s stated impetus — a purported ‘emergency’ that the entire globe has now endured for nearly two years, and which OSHA itself spent nearly two months responding to — is unavailing...”

A pandemic that has taken 750,000 lives in less than two years and continues to claim them at the rate of a 9/11 every three days is a “purported emergency?”  We hope these these reactionary clowns will tell us when a real ‘emergency’ shows up.  We could also hope that our elected leaders will protect us from death by unpacking the Fifth Circuit with seven new judges, but that would require something more than a “purported emergency.”

But let's return to those cheeky workers no longer willing to toil endlessly for peanuts.  What else are they whining about?

Of those who were seeking the ability to work from home, 85 percent said either workplace safety concerns (50 percent) or child-care/family-care needs (35 percent) were driving their decisions — data that indicates how many people are attempting to switch industries in hopes of being able to work from home. 

You mean the lack of affordable child care is keeping parents from entering the work force, either because there are no slots available or after paying child care, the marginal benefit of working is close to zip? Fortunately, the Biden Administration has a plan for that:

Who could oppose affordable child care when businesses are saying they are desperate for workers?

Follow that Maserati!

The child care provision is part of the Administration's omnibus Build Back Better bill, but Maserati Joe Manchin (D – Coal) isn't on board (he's staying on his luxury yacht instead).  His excuses vary, the most recent one being that inflation is too high even though no real economist believes that the BBB package will make inflation worse.

So the two most logical ways to motivate people to take and keep jobs – protecting them from death and making it possible for them to work without leaving their children alone in front of the tube – are, as usual in American life, being blocked by unprincipled a******.

What else might work?  One possibility would be not to focus on the whiners who can't find workers to hire, but instead try to learn from employers who seem to be able to attract and retain qualified workers:

For those of you who live west of Worcester (and why?), Market Basket is a beloved Boston-area supermarket chain owned by a family (or the branch of the family) that believes in treating its workers and customers well.  As a result, it's the market leader in the region and, according to this WCVB report, seems to be able to keep its 71-year-old cashiers happily employed.

It helps that Market Basket has not been stripped and flipped by private equity finaglers eager to scavenge every last quarter from the corporate carcass (like poor sad Stop & Shop).  So maybe the problem isn't a labor shortage, but a surplus of greedy, cruel, rapacious owners who are finally getting just what they deserve.

Of course, if all else fails, maybe it's time to exhort the proletariat to exert themselves in a Great Leap Forward:

Let's ask former Former Loser Grifter flunky and friend of China Elaine Chao for her deep thoughts on how to solve the “labor shortage:"

Oh, you're being far too modest, Elaine.  Who are you, really?  In addition to being the trophy wife of dreamy Sen. Mitch McConnell, that is.  When Mrs. Mitch was serving as the FLG's Transportation Secretary, she also managed to advance her family's interests by cozying up to the Chinese Government, whose labor policies are known for their, um, effectiveness:

No labor shortages in Elaine Chao's paradise

In China, the Chaos are no ordinary family. They run an American shipping company with deep ties to the economic and political elite in China, where most of the company’s business is centered. The trip was abruptly canceled by Ms. Chao after the ethics question was referred to officials in the State and Transportation Departments and, separately, after The New York Times and others made inquiries about her itinerary and companions. “She had these relatives who were fairly wealthy and connected to the shipping industry,” said a State Department official who was involved in deliberations over the visit. “Their business interests were potentially affected by meetings.”

So it's not surprising that she proposes to motivate American workers not with better wages, working conditions, safety standards, or child care, but with patriotic exhortations to overproduce for the greater glory of the Motherland, or in her case, one of her Motherlands.

And it wouldn't be much of a Great Leap Forward for the former sweetheart of Syosset High to propose a truly Chinese Government solution to a lack of available labor.  Hint: it's working just great now in Xinjiang Province.

By the way, her bosses from her last two stints at the Washington trough are to all appearances unemployed.  Here's hoping she'll have success persuading George W. Bush to wait tables at a Dallas barbecue pit.  As for her other boss, we don't think he could pass the drug test.

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Media in array: Dems in Disarray


By A.J. Liebling
Meta-Content Generator

It's been a rough week for the Democrats.  We know this because the media have been telling us all week it's been a rough week for the Democrats, what with maladroit retread insider Terry McAuliffe losing in Virginia and progressive Phil Murphy winning in New Jersey.  Here's a typical example of the Conventional Wisdom from The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Reeling from a barrage of unexpected losses, an array of Democrats on Wednesday pleaded with President Biden and his party’s lawmakers to address the quality-of-life issues that plagued their candidates in elections on Tuesday from heavily Hispanic San Antonio to the suburbs of Virginia, New Jersey and New York.

Although they had braced for a close race for Virginia governor, Democrats were caught off guard by the intensity of the backlash against their party in major off-year elections. Republicans claimed all three statewide offices in Virginia, will likely take control of the state’s House of Delegates and came close to upsetting Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, whose re-election had been presumed safe by officials in both parties. . . .

The scope of the party’s setbacks illustrated that voters were fatigued from the demands of the still-continuing coronavirus pandemic and angry about the soaring prices and scarcity of goods they were confronting every day.

Never mind that the Republicans didn't in fact come anywhere near upsetting Phil Murphy:

51-48?  How close is that in this country?  Just a reminder that President Biden was elected 51-47 and no one thought that was close.

Or that Boston, which a generation ago brought us white hatemongers like Louise Day Hicks and Dapper O'Neill, elected:

Yeah, we'd agree with The Boston Globe that a 30-point victory margin is “not close.”

We'll get back to the pithy analysis of what Demos did wrong, but interrupt this torrent of drivel to bring you something truly loathsome.

You'll recall that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and his husband adopted two babies last month, after which Buttigieg took advantage of the Biden Administration's parental leave policies and left the Department of Transportation in the hands of the career civil servants.

This decision was cruelly mocked by frozen-food heir and Nazi-curious white supremacist Fried Chicken with Country Gravy Carlson:

More Fox comedy gold!  Even funnier, it turned out that the baby had a serious health crisis requiring a lengthy stay in the newborn intensive care unit:

A week on a ventilator. 

We'll let you know when Fish Sticks and Tater Tots Carlson apologizes to the relieved parents and when wild bears discover the joys of National Park comfort stations.

No.  Just no.

By the way, what happens to parents whose critically ill infants are placed on ventilators but they don't have paid family leave?  We mention this not only to give you an idea of the toxic media environment facing Democrats seeking to behave decently or even a bit of mercy in times of need, but also because it ties into the Conventional Wisdom's prescription for Democrats in Defeat.

Nobody asked them but the New York Times Editorial Board, which despite extensive reorganization and new hires continues to just suck, had the answer:

But Democrats, looking left on so many priorities and so much messaging, have lost sight of what can unite the largest number of Americans. A national Democratic Party that talks up progressive policies at the expense of bipartisan ideas, and that dwells on Donald Trump at the expense of forward-looking ideas, is at risk of becoming a marginal Democratic Party appealing only to the left. 

What bipartisan ideas did the Times have in mind?  Was it removing great literature from schools whenever it offends the sensibilities of white racist and professional Republican rabble-rousers, as Republicans stressed in Virginia? Or just doing jack sh*t about any social issue at all, which has been the Republican position for 40 years?  Others have pointed out that Times Editorial Board said just the opposite a year ago, but that's the least of it.

Are those progressive ideas espoused by Democrats really so toxic?  We could look at a few, um, facts, like polling data showing that the elements of the Democratic plan are approved by only two out of three voters.

The particular elements of the plan are hardly the platform of the Supreme Soviet. Take the supposedly most controversial item, paid family leave.  180 other countries, including Country Ham with Applesauce Carlson's utopia, Hungary, have paid family leave, so parents don't have to choose between paying the rent and comforting their baby as it fights for its life in the Intensive Care Unit. 

Just today, the Times tells us that voters are supposedly in a sh**** mood, despite 4.6% unemployment, 561,000 new jobs last month, the stock market at record highs, and the widespread free availability of life-saving vaccines.  If you read the piece, you find that Democrats are seething because the progressive agenda the Times said was so toxic has been blocked by Republicans and Maserati Joe Manchin.  You also get the sense that a pandemic that has claimed the lives of 750,000 Americans over the past 18 months has a bit of a depressive effect.

What you don't find is the prevalence of armed and dangerous white supremacy, which tried to overthrow our government on January 6 and last week in Virginia  used the fake issue of teaching Critical Race Theory in public schools to express their racial guilt and resentment.

In response, CBS News to its shame asked:

As you might expect, the replies were en fuego:

But let's let George Takei have the last word:

Maybe media coverage that doesn't highlight the importance of white resentment and unearned privilege isn't really covering the political reality of our country at all. Maybe it's time once again, as hedge fund plutocrat Glenn Youngkin insists, to stress the importance of “education.” 

Of reporters that is.