Just waitin’ for more sinners to show up

Just waitin’ for more sinners to show up January 22, 2024

• Baptist theocrat Mark Harris is attempting a political comeback: “Mark Harris Is Not Asking For Forgiveness.”

Here’s a refresher on Harris from 2018, “The pastor and the stolen election“:

The cast of characters seems to have stepped out of the pages of a novel by Carl Hiassen or Elmore Leonard. And the candidate at the center of the story is a right-wing Southern Baptist pastor turned politician who is, in every way, exactly what you’d picture if someone told you to imagine a right-wing Southern Baptist pastor turned politician.

That pastor, Mark Harris, was the apparent winner of the U.S. House race last month in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, squeaking out about a 900-vote margin of victory over Democratic candidate and Marine veteran Dan McCready. But state officials have not certified the results or officially declared Harris the winner, because something seems awful fishy about the way absentee ballots were handled — harvested? trashed? altered? — in that 9th District race. The state board of elections is investigating, interviewing everybody, taking depositions and issuing subpoenas.

Harris said he didn’t know anything about the illegal vote-switching and vote-trashing tactics used by the people he hired to run his operation. That may not have been true — his own son testified that he knew what those workers were up to and praised them for it. But Harris still managed to avoid prison when his underlings were later convicted and sentenced.

North Carolina knows a thing or two about stolen elections.

North Carolina had to hold a do-over election with a replacement candidate for the disgraced and tainted Harris. That let Republicans keep the solidly Republican 9th District since Dan Bishop was just as right-wing as Harris, but didn’t come across as a shameless weirdo the way Harris did.

Five years later, Bishop isn’t running for re-election and a new district map makes the area even more solidly Republican. So Harris says it’s his turn to reclaim the congressional seat he feels entitled to — the post in Congress he now says was “stolen” from him. Stolen from him … thrown out after it was proved to be stolen by him … it’s all the same thing, really, isn’t it?

Harris is a white Christian nationalist culture warrior, so the stuff he talks most about is the usual proxy nonsense of abortion and Teh Gay, etc. But he’s also a stark example of what all those culture-war hot-button issues are a proxy for — white hegemony and white supremacy. That’s why he genuinely pretends to believe that the 2018 election in which the people he hired cheated was “stolen” from him. Because those illegal actions were all targeted toward Black voters and, in Harris’ view and in the view of those who support him, Black voters shouldn’t be equal or legitimate or real.

Harris would have won his election if only white votes counted, and so his campaign made sure that only white votes were counted — by bundling absentee votes from Black neighborhoods and then making sure they weren’t counted. The only Black votes Harris wanted to see counted were those of the voters his campaign got to sign blank absentee ballots, which they then filled out to count as votes for Harris.

There’s no way for Mark Harris to have seen what was done in his name in 2018 and to say what he’s saying about it now unless he is an explicit white supremacist. Full stop.

That’s what all the culture-war stuff is always a proxy for.

(Always. Even for those born generations after Brown v. Board who have ingested “protecting the unborn” rhetoric ever since their earliest memory.)

• From the Smithsonian: “Nine Dazzling Celestial Events to Watch in 2024.”

I love these annual listicles, even if they usually turn out to be “Nine Nights in 2024 When It’ll Probably Be Cloudy.”

We’re getting a visit this year (October 12-19) from Comet Tsuchinshan-ATLAS, which may or may not turn out to be visible to the naked eye.

“We won’t know until we get there,” how bright or visible this one will turn out to be, University of Maryland astronomer Quanzhi Ye warns, “Comets are like cats: They have tails; they do what they want.”

• In response to the school book-bans that are all the rage among Republicans these days, Karen Swallow Prior shares all the naughty bits from Paradise Lost. Steamy.

(And, yes, a Florida school district has put Milton’s poem “under review,” because this is the kind of thing that extremely broad and vague book bans with extremely harsh and specific punishments for teachers produces.)

• Folk names for plants and flowers were always a challenge when I worked in the garden center at the Big Box. (“Do you have any Crawling Sheepwort?” I have no idea. What else is it called? “Well, have you got Spotted Betty?” My roommate had that, in college. But he got a shot and it cleared up.)

So I found this both fascinating and useful: “The Confusing Truth About Arrowroot.”

“If it’s a root used to produce starch,” Andrew Coletti writes, “somebody has probably called it arrowroot at some point.”

• The title for this post comes from Ashley McBryde & Benjy Davis’s “Gospel Night at the Strip Club“:

Here’s McBryde doing a solo acoustic version of this and telling the story of where the song came from. The rhythm and structure of this story is a personal testimony, an exact parallel of the kind of quasi-miraculous, numinous story we heard and told in church. The setting and subject matter make this story something that might be described as “exvangelical,” but there ain’t nothing “ex-” about this. It’s easy to kick somebody out of your church, but it’s not so easy to kick the church out of them.


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