Revisiting the immorality of the religious right’s ‘moral high ground’


The religious right’s assertion that it represented the moral high ground was widely accepted for many years. But once they were challenged to defend that assertion, it proved to be indefensible. That’s why anti-gay ballot initiatives in the United States lost in 2012, and it’s why Irish voters overwhelmingly endorsed marriage equality in 2015. [Read more...]

Nothing is secret that will not become known

Martin Landau in "Crimes and Misdemeanors."

The astonishing thing to me about the Dennis Hastert story — the part I can’t manage to wrap my mind around — is that knowing this about himself, knowing his own secret history, he still chose to run for office and to place himself in the public eye. [Read more...]

Denny Hastert, Speaker of the House, 1999-2007


A sex scandal is not the same thing as “public corruption or a corruption scandal.” But when a sex scandal leads to extortion, that distinction goes away. A politician who is willing to pay someone millions of dollars to keep quiet may also be a politician who is willing to vote or deregulate or administer their duties in a way that favors those leveraging their secrets against them. And that is the very definition of public corruption. [Read more...]

Back to the ’80s, because we never left them (part 2)


Any skeptical questions about the reality of these alleged horrors was reinterpreted — and fiercely condemned — as a defense of those same horrors. Questions such as “How did they have time to fly the children to Mexico?” or “Why are there no records of such a flight?” wouldn’t be answered directly because answering them would threaten the fantasy. Instead, anyone asking such questions would be recast as a defender of Satanic ritual abuse by Mexican soldiers. [Read more...]

Back to the ’80s, because we never left them


The D&D backlash of the 1980s wasn’t sustainable because the unreality of the imagined threat eventually became impossible to deny. But while this particular form of symptom spiked and dissipated, the disease remains — with the moral entrepreneurs continuing their role-playing fantasy by concocting and warring against ever-new sets of imaginary monsters. [Read more...]

Nationals’ reliever shows us how to organize GOP presidential debates

Screen shot 2015-05-23 at 3.53.01 PM

So here’s my plan: Invite all two dozen of the 2016 Republican presidential candidates to Nationals Park for a post-anthem stand-off. The last four still standing — still on the field, caps held over their hearts — qualify for the televised debates on Fox and CNN. It would be silly and stupid, but it might still be an improvement over the current process — which is, itself, a goofy parody of macho posturing and performative patriotism. [Read more...]

‘We must be careful about what we pretend to be’: How tribal cheerleading creates new tribal dogma and changes the tribe to conform to it


Over time, these kinds of tribal-cheerleading responses to pollsters and other catechists eventually become required responses. And thus, over time, the things that people pretend to believe as a “way of showing that they’re members in good standing” of their political faction become the things that members of that faction actually believe. The fluff becomes substance — becomes dogma. And the tribe is transformed to conform to this new dogma. [Read more...]

Harriet Tubman stole from the rich and gave to the poor

The real-life American Robin Hood.

Harriet Tubman was Robin Hood. Later in her life, after the law had been changed and the Constitution rewritten, Tubman was praised and honored as a war hero and a humanitarian. But make no mistake, during her years as a “conductor on the Underground Railroad,” Harriet Tubman was an outlaw and a thief who regularly stole the property of wealthy Maryland farmers. [Read more...]