But you can’t expect to be bright and bon vivant

But you can’t expect to be bright and bon vivant February 8, 2017

• Republican senators are reportedly rattled by the overwhelming volume of constituent calls they’ve been getting in opposition to confirmation of Betsy DeVos and Jeff Sessions. They should be. And it’s just starting.

Sen. Pat Toomey’s complacent career is only going to get more uncomfortable for him from here on.

• Here’s alleged Baptist mega-church pastor Dean Haun explaining why he no longer believes in the essence of what it means to be a Baptist:

Dean Haun, pastor of First Baptist Church, Morristown, told the Baptist and Reflector his resignation was in response to the IMB’s May 2016 decision to sign an amicus brief in support of a mosque to be built in New Jersey.

“I love our IMB leadership and our missionaries and their work across the globe.  I am not a rabble rouser and my heart is not to take down the IMB,” he stressed, adding, however, that he has to stand up for his convictions that he feels are based upon Scripture.

… Haun asked, “If we defend the rights of people to construct places of false worship are we not helping them speed down the highway to hell? I want no part in supporting a false religion even if it is in the name of religious freedom,” he said. “Our Baptist institutions’ names will be on this brief setting legal precedence and supporting the right of mosques to be built all over our nation for years to come.” Haun said he believes Islam does not deserve to be protected like other religions in America because it is not a religion. “In my opinion Islam, which means to ‘submit,’ is a geo-political movement that seeks to replace our values and even our faith with Sharia law. I doubt if the situation were reversed if the Muslims would stand up for our religious liberty.”

Haun is confused. He’s a Puritan who mistakenly believes he’s a “Baptist.” The man is two steps beyond baptizing infants into the king’s state church and one step from selling indulgences to fund palaces for archbishops.

Apart from his theological confusion, he also seems to be a Fox-addled dimwit and a perniciously ignorant bigot. But bracket that: He doesn’t have the first idea of what it means to be a Baptist.

• Contrary to Donald Trump’s claim that “U.S. Murder Rate Is Highest in 47 Years” it’s actually close to a generational low.

Trump is lying, but as always, the key fact here is not “Trump is a liar,” but rather this: Trump’s fans want to believe this is true.

That’s always the most important thing about the spread of fake news — from Trump’s lies, to Breitbart, to Mike Warnke or the old Amway slanders about Procter & Gamble. The words and motives of the speaker are always less important and less interesting than the motives of the credulous listeners. They want to believe. They are choosing to believe.


Why? Why, in this case, would anyone want — choose, prefer, desire — to believe that America’s declining murder rate is spiking at some record-setting level? That’s the story.

• Dave Davies interviews author Brian Alexander in a fascinating Fresh Air segment examining the economic anxiety of white working-class Trump supporters: “‘Glass House’ Chronicles the Sharp Decline of an All-American Factory Town.”

It’s a frustrating, heart-breaking account of the way a town, it’s people, neighborhoods, and community ties were methodically destroyed by Wall Street moneymen interested in nothing more than strip-mining all of it for every drop of profit they could squeeze before abandoning it and moving on to the next town, the next factory.

And then, at the very end, Alexander fesses up that he’s also buried the lede, misunderstood and misrepresented the story he’s been telling all along:

Lancaster people to this day will say that they live in the whitest town in America. … It’s virtually an all-white town, slightly more diverse than it used to be, but not by much. And in the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, it was very, very sort of Anglo-Saxon, Protestant and Catholic in that town to the point where the Klan in the ’20s, for example, the Klan was a force. The sheriff and the mayor were Klan members.

Um, yeah. That shouldn’t be an afterthought. The story of economic exploitation that Alexander reports and recounts so well is inextricably bound up in that supposed footnote. Divide and conquer. Divided, and therefore conquered.

Discussing the “decline of an ‘all-American’ factory town” without relating that to that same town’s history of being a place where “the Klan was a force” is like trying to understand, for example, that same region’s current opioid epidemic without also mentioning either of those things.


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