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My Name is Forget

February 6, 2020

President Trump was acquitted by the Senate yesterday, obviously, but one Republican did vote to convict, Mitt Romney, and here’s why, via The Atlantic:

Romney, a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, described to me the power of taking an oath before God: “It’s something which I take very seriously.” Throughout the trial, he said, he was guided by his father’s favorite verse of Mormon scripture: Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good. “I have gone through a process of very thorough analysis and searching, and I have prayed through this process,” he told me. “But I don’t pretend that God told me what to do.”

In his speech, Romney said, “I am profoundly religious. My faith is at the heart of who I am. I take an oath before God as enormously consequential.”

This morning, Trump spoke at the already-really-bad National Prayer Breakfast, and used it as a chance to gloat and complain and impugn religious claims that he doesn’t like:

I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong. Nor do I like people who say, ‘I pray for you,’ when they know that that’s not so.

We put out our response to the State of the Union yesterday, focusing on that one section that had our blood boiling, about how all Americans “life our voices in prayer” and “raise our sights to the glory of God” and whatnot:

This rhetoric goes far beyond the usual exaltations of faith that are commonplace in political oratory. It is nothing less than a Christian-nationalist declaration of war against our secular constitutional democracy. It would be a grave mistake to minimize the president’s words as cheap talking points written for him on a teleprompter. President Trump declared his allegiance to an agenda embraced by religious authoritarians and advanced by pressure groups who don’t disclose their finances but very much do have the attention and support of the president.

Jack Jenkins, examining other religious aspects of Trump’s speech, catches something that is really quite troubling:

When making the pitch for increasing funding for space shots to the moon and Mars, Trump insisted that “America has always been a frontier nation,” adding, “Now we must embrace the next frontier, America’s Manifest Destiny in the stars.”

Manifest Destiny is a belief popular in the 19th century that contended it was the “destiny” of the overwhelmingly white, European settlers to expand westward across the United States. It was often framed in religious terms and sometimes included the spread of Christianity, and was widely seen as the theological justification for the systematic subjugation of Native Americans and their lands.

Desperate to find a 5-year-old who has been missing for four months, police in Bridgeton, New Jersey have been following “tips” from psychics. NJ.com reports:

Days after a tip from a psychic brought a large group of residents out to a Bridgeton field to search for missing 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez, the city police chief took to Facebook to assure residents that investigators are relying on a fact-based search for the child.

Bridgeton Police Chief Michael Gaimari acknowledged, however, that investigators have followed up on some tips provided by psychics, but only when the information might have some “slight possible connection” to the case. … Gaimari stressed that police cannot follow up on “random” information provided by psychics because that would “take investigators away from legitimate avenues of investigation.”

I get it.

A teeny, tiny town in New York, Lily Dale, is apparently home to 275 people, about 50 of whom consider themselves psychic mediums…media…medii…spooks. One such medium, whose name is apparently “Lynne Forget,” told Business Insider:

“At one time Lily Dale was pretty unique because this type of thing was seen as not a normal thing to do. It’s everywhere now.” Forget said she’s noticed an uptick in young people seeking out mediums recently, and men in particular — “and not necessarily dragged by their girlfriends or their wives,” she said.

“They’re coming willingly, and they really believe in it, as well.”

Legislators in Georgia want to be more like Tennessee and make sure adoption service providers can tell same-sex couples and atheists to go to hell and prevent kids from having loving homes. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

State Rep. Matt Wilson, a Brookhaven Democrat who is gay, said Harbin’s proposal hit on a personal level.“I’m at the stage of my life where I’m in a committed relationship with my partner and we’re on the road to one day start a family,” he said. “And to do that we would have to adopt because, obviously, we can’t have children. So this is a bill that would directly affect my ability to have a family.”

The bill would allow agencies to refuse to work with couples that violate “certain religious or moral convictions” the agency holds. [Bill sponsor State Sen. Marty] Harbin said the legislation could apply to same-sex couples, atheists or people of a different faith.

Georgia may not like where a bill like this leads, as CNBC reports that big corporations are warning Tennessee that they are not happy with all the anti-gay legislation:

The collective, known as the Tennessee Businesses Against Discrimination, included major companies such as Amazon, Nike, Dell, Lyft, Marriott and American Airlines, as well as more than 100 small businesses in Tennessee.

The letter specifically targets the passage of HB 836, which allows taxpayer-funded foster care and adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ people. It stated that enacting further anti-LGBTQ legislation would harm Tennesseans and “create unnecessary hurdles to economic competitiveness.”

“Policies that signal that the state is not welcoming to everyone put our collective economic success at risk,” the letter said. “It is both a business imperative and core to our corporate values that our customers, our employees and their families, and our potential employees feel fully included in the prosperity of our state.”

However, not among these anti-discrimination corporations is the state’s largest company, FedEx, which has indicated that “it prefers to demonstrate corporate values through civic and charitable efforts.” Uh huh. Right.

Let us now head to another state trying to time-travel to the Dark Ages, Missouri, where State Rep. Mike Moon (again, actual name) has introduced the absurdly named “Right to Due Process Act,” which grants personhood to fertilized eggs, thereby making it so ending any pregnancy ever is an act of murder. There’s more! Jessica Glenza at The Guardian reports:

Moon also filed a bill to “abolish” abortion in Missouri, and specifically cites “murder by abortion”. The law makes no exemptions for rape, incest or apparently for women who have pregnancies which are not viable and potentially fatal, since the proposals strike references to abortion exemptions for maternal health. … In addition to his work against abortion, Moon is the co-chair of the Missouri chapter of the Congressional Prayer Caucus.


And now to Arkansas, where State Sen. Jason Rapert wants to defund Sesame Street because gay actor Billy Porter is set to appear on the show in that frankly gorgeous tuxedo-dress.

At The New Statesman, Anjana Ahuja reviews How to Argue with a Racist by Adam Rutherford, which looks at the pseudoscience behind racist attitudes and beliefs:

… writers such as [Angela] Saini and Rutherford are needed more than ever in our confusing, polarised times. Charles Murray, the right-wing thinker who co-wrote The Bell Curve – which, among other things, pointed to IQ differences between white and black people and discussed how this could affect social policy – has a new book out that invokes genetics to challenge “woke” thinking on gender, race and class. Such prophets thrive in pop culture, exploiting the inevitable gaps and uncertainties in scientific data to fan the flames of division, and using the shield of free speech to brush off accusations of poor or selective scholarship.

My interpretation is that those who covertly, or overtly, push the anti-woke agenda fear that their own status is threatened by positive social change. Society becomes a zero-sum game in which the rise of minorities must mean the fall of the majority. This fear is embodied in the fixation on the demise of Western culture, which animates so much hostility towards minorities.

“[White supremacists] fantasise about a persecution of their people that will end in their extinction, or an erosion of their rights in exchange for the same rights afforded to people of different heritage,” Rutherford observes. “When all you’ve ever known is privilege, equality feels like oppression.”

A German court refuses to force a Protestant church to remove a carving from its wall that, well, sounds very bad. AFP reports:

Widely known the as “Judensau” (Jews’ sow), the 13th-century bas relief on the church in eastern German town Wittenberg depicts a rabbi peering into a pig’s anus, while other figures suckle milk from its teats. … A panel of judges at Saxony-Anhalt state’s superior court in Naumburg found the image “did not harm Jews’ reputation” because it was “embedded” in a wider memorial context, presiding judge Volker Buchloh said, according to regional broadcaster MDR.

Every UK venue that was supposed to host Franklin Graham has thought better of it. Hehe.

Climate change is causing the oceans to move faster. Chris Mooney at the Post reports:

The new research found that 76 percent of the global ocean is speeding up, when the top 2,000 meters of the ocean are taken into account. The increase in speed is most intense in tropical oceans and especially the vast Pacific.

Scientists aren’t certain of all the consequences of this speedup yet. But they may include impacts in key regions along the eastern coasts of continents, where several currents have intensified. The result in some cases has been damaging ocean hotspots that have upended marine life.

Okay, look. When Business Insider starts posting how-to videos on surviving after the apocalypse, maybe we need to start taking the end of the world a little more seriously.

Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is.