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Thanks for this, Laurie. I had a roommate in college who was a Moonie. The Moonies had basically rescued him from an abusive family and budding alcoholism, giving him a sense of direction. He was whip smart, and eventually went on to Harvard Law school with the intention of working for the Moonies when he was done. I shudder to think what he's doing now.

To be committed to a weird religion, you have to accept certain premises -- the leap of faith, which many experience as life-saving -- and then you can be as smart as you want as long as you continue to accept those fundamental premises. Your essay reminds me that, yeah, we need to be deeply concerned about this "nationalist Christianity." But I'm not sure how to do it, because you have to somehow change some folks fundamental premises, which be definition are not up for ordinary argumentation.

Laurie Essig

A Harvard educated Moonie lawyer? That's like having a Yale educated fundamentalist Christian President. Oh wait...

Jeff McMahon

This is such an important post, Laurie, on so many levels. It gets at how the Republicans put together their little-tent coalition. They have the advantage of representing the rich and powerful. And then all they need is a certain number of the powerless to vote against their own interests. It seems to me they get there by appealing to fear. Some variety of fear of the other. That is their sublime accomplishment, although it's perverse to call it sublime. For example, Reagan convinced millions of union members to support him as he undermined the unions. They probably would have given him a third term even as he burned their houses down around them. To some of us it looks like mass stupidity, but something diabolically clever is happening behind the curtain. It looks stupid when people who lack health care rage against health care or when people say, "Keep the government away from my medicare!" or "I grew up on welfare and food stamps and no one ever gave me a handout!" Or when Charlton Heston holds up a gun and bellows, "From my cold, dead hands!" Relegating those attitudes to stupidity may be akin to underestimating the enemy. I'm tempted to think the U.S. is reaping the fruit of the GOP's war on education, but maybe it's merely reaping the fruit of fear.

Your last paragraph is more optimistic than I tend to be. I think we're hard wired to form groups, to exclude, to compete, to gossip, to murder, and any new village we build will divide against itself.

At least until the Second Coming.


Its hard to believe that even the hardest core right wingers could by into the death panel thing. What's even harder is that they bought it from the same media outlets that were telling them the economy was building in strength right up until the crash! It has to be a willful blindness. Deep down they have to know it's BS.

Laurie Essig

Jeff, how funny it is that my somewhat nihilistic suggestion that we just completely destroy the structures as they are because they're so bleeping corrupt is, in these times, read as "optimism." Well, not funny, ha ha, but an ironic statement about just how bad things are.

But you're right to read optimism there. I still have faith (of a different sort). I still believe, if we could pry power out of the hands of corporations and the military industrial complex AND give the people the sort of education that would give them critical thinking skills, that we could definitely create something better. I have faith that Americans can create a system that is more fair, more just, more reasonable, even if it is far from perfect.

Perhaps what I am imagining is Canada or even, in my most optimistic moments, Sweden? Someplace where the people were not so easily fooled into working against their own interests just because someone puts on a cowboy hat and shoots a rifle or whatever?

Is burning down of the village in order to build one less infected with idiocy really too optimistic for these times?


"I still believe, if we could pry power out of the hands of corporations and the military industrial complex AND give the people the sort of education that would give them critical thinking skills, that we could definitely create something better."

The supreme court whose chief justice was raised and educated and spent his career in a bubble are going to decide if corporations can openly fund candidates and thus be full fledged extra-citizens. If this happens there is no hope reigning in their power. Sonia asked why are we talking about this and the answer reveals the possible judgment.

As for education, 75% of Oklahoma High School students couldn't name the first president of our country. And no, it wasn't a trick question about the Continental Congress and John Hanson.

My faith is waning.

Jeff McMahon

No, Laurie, not too optimistic. I think pessimism may just be a side effect of my environmental reporting. Sweden is a good example of a less idiotic village, and I sometimes wonder if European countries aren't less idiotic precisely because they were, not so long ago, burnt down.


Rich and powerful....hmm. You mean like George Soros, or Drummond Pike, or Gore? Is that what you mean?

"GOP's war on education"....oh like the NEA? Damn right wingers.


Please move


On Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays I stop thinking of how dorky are Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and their legions and I wonder "if we're so smart and so right how is it that we can't convince them of the errors of their ways?"
I think one of the major factors is that when Jimmy Carter's presidency failed so also failed his humanist vision of Christianity. And Democrats and the Left, believing as we do in a pluralistic, secular nation, were reluctant to fight back and reassert Carter's vision. Obama wisely has seen the mistake and is willing and capable of engaging the debate. It will take time to undo 30 years of neglect, of leaving the field to fundamentalists.
Jeff, Obama is that second coming.


hilarious.....good read!


okay! I officially state I loVe you...now a faithful reader...me likes ur style! Keep up the good work...at least until 2012--haha!


...that's right Sistah..don't bite ur tongue...they surely don't...u...tell em' how it TIIS...

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