7 things @ 9 o’clock (10.18)

1. Here’s an insightful piece by David Frum, examining what caused the recent Republican defeat and what his party needs to do to move forward. The fact that Frum wrote this piece on March 21, 2010, makes it even more insightful. (Depressing possibility: He could repost it again in a few months and have it be just as timely.)

2. I’m not at all surprised that a white evangelical House stenographer would interrupt legislators with an incoherent rant about godandamerica. I am surprised to hear that rant include anti-Masonic conspiracy thinking. That’s old school. (I think even Wheaton College has dropped its prohibition against membership in “secret societies.”)

3. “I got lambasted because I quoted the Bible and stuff like that on Facebook,” said Linda Oliver, mayor of West Union, S.C. But Mayor Oliver’s rant didn’t actually “quote the Bible” — she just implied that the Bible somehow justified her rant against “the queers.”

After indulging in some self-congratulatory fantasies about herself as a righteous martyr (“I know that following Jesus, I’m going to be crucified”), Mayor Oliver eventually conceded that her personal animosity toward LGBT people wasn’t due to “the Bible and stuff like that,” but was, rather, the product of a her stunted upbringing: “The way I feel toward homosexuals is how I’ve been brought up.”

Ah. Perhaps this could be a teachable moment — not just for Oliver, but for others as well. Confusing “how I’ve been brought up” with “the Bible and stuff like that” will always get you into trouble.

4. If the thought of what your God is going to do to most people is so horrifying that it makes you weep uncontrollably, that’s a pretty big sign that your God is not worthy of worship.

Related: “What Is the Point of Smashmouth Evangelism?” — “My guess is that this type of engagement is really just about point scoring.” That’s my guess, too. And truly I tell you, they have received their reward — points scored, but nothing else.

5. Here’s a story for our friend Al Mohler, young-Earth creationist: “30,000-year-old Brazilian artifacts throw wrench in theory humans first arrived in Americas 12,000 years ago.” Or, in other words, do the artifacts planted by the Devil to deceive us appear 24,000 years older than they really are? Or do they merely appear 6,000 years older than they really are?

6. Standard & Poor’s estimates the shutdown cost about $24 billion. Bryce Covert puts that in perspective, listing some other things that cost about that much:

  • The net cost of to the government from the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP): $24 billion
  • The Department of Agriculture’s proposed budget: $22.6 billion
  • NASA’s approved budget: $16.6 billion
  • All air transportation programs, including the Federal Aviation Administration, security, research, and other costs: $21.9 billion
  • The Child Tax Credit: $22.1 billion
  • The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program (formally known as welfare): $17.7 billion
  • The cost of Head Start, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Women Infants and Children (WIC) program combined: $25.2 billion

7. Cynthia Nielsen: “Douglass’s Political Philosophy of Mutual Responsibility or ‘Each for All and All for Each’

Yet his personal experience of unjust suffering did not result in a spirit of resignation or an acceptance of the status quo; rather, just a few years after his escape from slavery and his resettlement in New Bedford, Douglass not only participated in the abolitionist movement but became one of its leading and most profound voices. His own experience of brutal suffering and the social death he and countless others endured fueled his social activism and compelled him to develop and defend a political philosophy whose central components consist in mutual responsibility and a sense of obligation for the other’s good. Stated otherwise and drawing from an instance of Douglass’s reverse discourse par excellence entitled, “What is the Slave to the Fourth of July,” he writes: “the mournful wail of millions, whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday” are today “rendered more intolerable by […] jubilant shouts”—misplaced, triumphalist shouts proclaiming America’s tainted, blood-stained history as something of the past and that true democracy had finally arrived. For Douglass, the “mournful wails of millions” never grew faint but resounded repeatedly in his soul, piercing him with an existential memory that refused to celebrate half-freedoms, partial rights, and second-class citizenship.

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