God is still abundant enough to sustain the fantasy

God is still abundant enough to sustain the fantasy

On the site for paid subscribers this week we've got a great piece from Casey Taylor. It's got a bit of everything: the personality-based evangelism of Charismatic Christianity, how that connects to contemporary Democrats' substitution of the State for God in the Holy Trinity, Bill Clinton, Pete Buttigieg, speaking in tongues, our founding as a so-called secular nation, and a lot more I'm too stupid to summarize.

Liberal Democrats Enter their Charismatic Phase

Taylor writes:

The Democratic Party entered its Charismatic Phase with Bill Clinton, whose victory in the presidential campaign was commonly attributed to his personality and way with people. There’s more to it than that, as there always is with matters of neat and tidy historical summaries, but included in this “charisma” of Clinton was his chameleon-like way to adapt his beliefs to whatever room he was in. In Black churches, he was the Baptist who found the church again in 1980 after his career and reputation in Arkansas were tanking. He attended Pentecostal revivals to rub elbows with the types of Billy Graham-style evangelicals who preached everything from Millennialist prophecy of fiery death upon Jesus’s return or those that preached Prosperity Theology, otherwise known as Antichrist theology. Bill Clinton didn’t believe shit unless it helped him get a vote, but luckily with his endless charm and personality, he was able to fake it with the people he wanted to con. He locked up the southern racists he courted with the Democratic Leadership Committee and his “Sister Souljah Moment” that still gets discussed today, while still charming the Black communities he would later destroy in 1994. In every conceivable way, Bill Clinton was a false prophet who primarily coasted on the reputation of an economy that rewarded his affluent suburban voters and the capitalist class equally, and subjugated the very people whose votes he had conned. Clinton (and Barack Obama, whose bad reputation for drone murder and failure to deliver anything he promised is often buoyed by market performance) knew that the scoreboard going up means God is still abundant enough to sustain the fantasy.

Subscribe and read the rest here.

Is it possible for a chart (via) to be a poem?

That blue line inching and inching upward at the top. And the decline at the end of "time spent with partner" around 80. Jesus Christ is that what happens to all of us? I'm not swearing when I say that I'm praying.

More here from Our World in Data.

When we’re young – particularly in our teens – we spend a lot of our time with friends, parents, siblings and extended family. As we enter our 20s, time with friends, siblings and parents starts to drop off quickly. Instead, we start spending an increasing amount of time with partners and children...
As the chart shows, this continues throughout our 30s, 40s and 50s – over this period of their life, Americans spend much of their time with partners, children and, unsurprisingly, co-workers.
For those 60 and older, we see a significant drop-off in time spent with co-workers. This makes sense, considering many people in the US enter retirement in their mid 60s. We see that this time is partly displaced by more time with partners.
In terms of the diversity of interactions, this chart suggests that the number of people with whom we interact is highest around 40, but then things change substantially after that. And this is perhaps the most conspicuous trend in the chart: above 40, people spend an increasing amount of time alone.

Whenever there is a high profile school shooting the same tired reactionary solution is suggested by the right: More police in schools. Even if we set aside the superlative failure and cowardice of the police in Uvalde for now – which disproves the fantasy that police are going to risk their lives to help anyone – you and I intuitively know this premise to be bullshit because police do not make anyone safer anywhere. Their mere presence makes things worse due to police being humans' most efficient natural predator.

(A bear in the vicinity isn't always going to attack you. Maybe it's not hungry at the moment. But that doesn't mean its looming doesn't charge every moment with the threat of imminent swift danger.)

I've written on police in schools a couple times in here but this part feels worth repeating:

People tend to think about the presence of police officers in school as offering a measure of safety in the case of a school shooting which may or may not be true but they don’t tend to think about what the police are supposed to be doing during all the downtime when schools aren’t under assault. It may not seem like it but schools in America aren’t actually being shot up all day every day year round. So cops, given nothing else to do, will always revert to being cops. If they’re stationed at an otherwise relatively peaceful school they’ll often go looking for people to harass or for exciting crimes to solve to make themselves feel like they’re not wasting their time.
And it’s no surprise what types of students end up being the recipient of their attention.
...School resource officer is what they call it when there is a cop at the school and the resource they provide is fucking with the students of color...

I was thinking about that in the context of this story from Dame magazine this week. It's not just that cops in schools make for a hostile environment for students by criminalizing behavior that would have traditionally been managed by teachers and administrators and so on  – which is bad enough. They're also fucking with the kids in other ways.

Police Are Being Removed From Schools for Sexual Assault | Dame Magazine
Bad faith actors claim that school resource officers keep schools safe, but their survivors would likely claim otherwise.

Nicole Froio writes that "at least 440 school children have been sexually abused by school police at their school in the last 20 years."

Does that sound like a lot or a little to you? Whatever your answer it's likely to be a vast undercount. These were just incidents that were acknowledged widely enough that they made it into local news reports. Considering how police in schools are often under the supervision of their own chain of command and not the schools themselves it's not hard to imagine hundreds or more being brushed aside or ignored by the police who are unwilling to police themselves unless they are forced to.

“Three quarters of rapes aren’t reported; imagine how much higher that number is when the person that sexually assaulted you is the person you’re supposed to report it to,” Andrea J. Ritchie a police misconduct attorney and researcher quoted in the piece explains. “I want to emphasize just how routine and mundane this is.”

Read the rest here.

Despite all of that surprisingly a Pocono Mountain Regional Police officer in Pennsylvania was actually sentenced to five years this month for bribery and obstruction of justice related to a sexual assault according to the Pocono Record. Related to a sexual assault that is. Not the act of the sexual assault itself. The cop in question Steven Mertz was found not guilty of raping a woman who he had pulled over in 2019 when she was extremely inebriated. His defense suggested she was asking for it. Instead he was busted for accepting a bribe in the form of sexual favors that he said was her idea. So it was "consensual."

So that nothing is wasted in nature
Every day I think about untwisting and untangling these strings I’m in

This is something I've written on in here before as well but it also bears repeating that as recently as 2018 there were 35 states in the country "where consent may be used as a defense when a police officer is charged with raping a person in his custody," according to the ACLU. The idea that a person in police custody could possibly consent is self-evidently farcical to any person of conscience but it wasn't until March of 2022 – four months ago that is – that Congress closed the so-called "police rape loophole" on the federal level with the Closing the Law Enforcement Consent Loophole Act.

Buzzfeed reported:

While laws in all states bar probation officers and prison and jail guards from having sex with people who are incarcerated, most state legal codes don’t include police officers in the language of their sexual abuse provisions, nor specify that sexual encounters between law enforcement agents and people in their custody cannot be consensual, according to a 2018 BuzzFeed News review of state criminal laws. In most of the states that do not explicitly outlaw sex between on-duty cops and detainees, an officer can claim consent and face only a misdemeanor “official misconduct” charge, which carries a maximum one-year sentence.

Where have we been living all this time? What kind of fucking country is this?

More from that old Hell World above:

“According to a 2010 Cato Institute review, sexual misconduct is the second-most-frequently reported form of police misconduct, after excessive force,” according to the Associated Press.
Sometimes they even get in trouble for it.
In 2015 the Associated Press counted almost one thousand officers between 2009 and 2014 “who lost their badges in a six-year period for rape, sodomy and other sexual assault; sex crimes that included possession of child pornography; or sexual misconduct such as propositioning citizens or having consensual but prohibited on-duty intercourse.”
That number was likely to be a vast understatement they said because it only counted officers who actually lost their jobs and many states including California and New York where there are quite a fair few number of cops didn’t have records about such things because why would they. In some states where they reported no firings for sexual misconduct they found cases through news reports or court records that it had actually happened so those states were lying or negligent or both.
“It’s happening probably in every law enforcement agency across the country,”  Chief Bernadette DiPino of the Sarasota Police Department in Florida who studied the issue told the AP. “It’s so underreported and people are scared that if they call and complain about a police officer, they think every other police officer is going to be then out to get them.”
What’s more a significant percentage of these incidents involve particularly vulnerable people like minors or women of color or sex workers or addicts or in other words people who the police perceive as having even less power than the average person and are therefore less likely to make a whole thing about it.

Well that fucking sucks to look at and know about sorry about that but here's something that might briefly cheer you up.

It's so much better than I was imagining it was going to be and I was imagining it was going to be perfect.

Is it true that Larry David chewed you out?
He did, yeah. What happened is—it’s interesting because I was having lunch with a very radical lawyer who loves me. I mean, he disagrees with me. We argue all the time, but he is not part of the Chilmark crowd. So I was having lunch with him and then a number of other people were there. Suddenly, Larry David walks in to buy some groceries. I say, “Hey. Hi, Larry,” and he turns away, and he just walks away. I say, “Larry, can’t we at least talk?” He said, “No. You’re disgusting.”
He said, “I saw you pat Mike Pompeo on the back.” It’s true. I did. Here’s the story. It was the Abraham Accords, or the movement toward peace in Israel under the Trump Administration, which I played a central role in.
I met with the Emir of Qatar. No, of Kuwait. No, was it Qatar?
The Dershowitz Accords.
The Abraham Accords. So I played a central role—not a central role, an important role in that. I helped. So they were celebrating that at the White House. I was there anyway because it was the day after I made my speech in the Senate, so I was invited to come. They assigned seats. They sat me right in back of Mike Pompeo, who had been my former student at Harvard Law School. Trump made a very bad joke, and people laughed. I didn’t laugh. [He did.] I thought it was a bad joke. My wife laughed. I didn’t laugh. I patted him on the back, and I said, “Mike, this, too, will pass. You’ll be remembered for what you did in the Middle East.” That was it. That was the entire encounter. I don’t know Mike Pompeo—
So Larry David’s all upset about this?
He called me disgusting, and he said he could never talk to me. Here’s a guy who used to come to our house to work out in the gym. He would come to our house for dinner two or three times a summer. [Larry David did not respond to a request for comment.]

Read the rest here.

One more thing I think you'll like before we go for today. It's a piece called The Politics of Narrative: Why I Am A Poet by Lynn Emanuel which you can read in full here but here's an excerpt.

"A sentence, unlike a line, is not a station of the cross." I said this to the poet Mark Strand. I said, "I could not stand to write prose; I could not stand to have to write things like 'the draperies were burnt orange and the carpet was brown.'" And he said, "You could do it if that's all you did, if that was the beginning and the end of your novel." So please, don't ask me for a little trail of breadcrumbs to get from the smile to the bedroom, and from the bedroom to the death at the end, al- though you can ask me a lot about death. That's all I like, the very beginning and the very end. I haven't got the stomach for the rest of it.
I don't think many people do. But, like me, they're either too afraid or too polite to say so. That's why the movies are such a disaster. Now there's a form of popular culture that doesn't have a clue. Movies should be five minutes long. You should go in, see a couple of shots, maybe a room with orange draperies and a rug. A voice-over would say, "I'm having a hard time getting Raoul from the hotel room into the elevator." And, bang, that's the end. The lights come on, everybody walks out full of sympathy because this is a shared experience. Everybody in that theater knows how hard it is to get Raoul from the hotel room into the elevator. Everyone has had to do boring, dogged work. Everyone has lived a life that seems to inflict every vivid moment the smears, fingerings, and pawings of plot and feeling. Everyone has lived under this oppression. In other words, everyone has had to eat shit—day after day, the endless meals they didn't want, those dark, half-gelatinous lakes of gravy that lay on the plate like an ugly rug and that wrinkled clump of reddish-orange roast beef that looks like it was dropped onto your plate from a great height. God what a horror: getting Raoul into the elevator.

Thanks for your continued support. <3