Tuesday, January 19, 2021

I'm Gonna Have to Potty-Train the Chairman Mao

(This 1984 [1985?] song is a prophecy.  The Butthole Surfers were in tune with the universe in a way that no other band has ever been.)

A quickie: Just as a matter of tactics, I don't think we should accept any Trump supporter's claim that Trump got 74 million votes in the election.  Trump was an unpopular president even before his coup attempt, and when you think about it, is it really plausible that he got as many votes as that?  And isn't the only evidence for that number the same electoral system that Trump and his supporters say was crooked, rigged, fake?  We've seen numerous Republican attempts to disenfranchise Democratic voters, so it's reasonable to suppose that the results in the states they control would have been manipulated to give Trump the victory.

It might seem that this is not really an issue now, on the eve of Joe Biden's inauguration, but remember that though Trump is resentfully moving out of the White House, he has still not conceded to Biden, nor has he admitted that the election was not stolen from him.  Trump's fans have backed off slightly, but they haven't changed their minds.  Debating them is hopeless, but I want to hear them try to prove that Trump didn't win more than, say, 30 million votes.

Monday, January 18, 2021

One, Two, Three Times a Lady...

It seems that liberals can only go for so long before they have to break out the homophobic insults.  A law professor named Josh Chafetz called foul on it today.

The responses were predictably stupid.  One I hadn't seen before was that "Lady G" is a nickname Graham himself asked the male escorts he uses to call him.  

I don't know whether it's true, but after decades of hearing gossip about possibly gay celebrities and public figures, I figure it's false.  And if it's true, it's irrelevant.

I don't want him to be exempt from name-calling. There are plenty of true and proper names to call Graham for voting against LGBTQ+ rights.  "Bigot," for one.  "Hypocrite" for another.  "Liar."  Even "coward."  Throwing homophobic abuse at him, or any closet case, means you're on the side of the bigots, and that you feel good there.  Isn't it funny, though, that when liberal homophobes get called out, they suddenly claim that calling their targets queer isn't really an insult?

And then there's the claim that it's okay to side with the bigots if we're gay, epitomized here:

I have little respect for George Takei anymore, but here's the thing about this one.  In my day (and though I'm younger than he is, I was out years before Takei crept out of his own closet), we queens called everybody by femme names. Singling out one hypocrite, in a time when every gay celebrity was closeted, would have been absurd (not that that would have stopped us).  We were partly engaged in a repressed form of resistance, but it also involved a lot of self-hatred.

It's one thing to play this gay parlor game among ourselves, but once you post it on social media, you're letting insecure straight boys think that they can get away with it too, like white kids who figure that listening to hiphop gives them a day pass to throw around n****r.  

Then came this familiar move:

I can easily believe that Graham is gay, though as Tallulah Bankhead apocryphally said when asked about someone else, "I don't know, darling -- he never sucked my cock!"  Numerous right-wing figures, including politicians, have come forward to be themselves over the years, and they remained terrible people without exception.  Some, like Andrew Sullivan, were already out when they burst onto the scene; same story.  Being a right-wing scumbag is who Graham is: racist, bigoted, dishonest, hypocritical, beholden to wealthy donors.

There were numerous variations on this:

Equating homosexuality to submissiveness (and vice versa) is the quintessence of homophobia.  In this case it's obviously ridiculous, because Graham is far from the only male Republican pol who has submitted to Trump.  Are they all closet cases?  Not impossible, but not likely either.

Which brings me to a curious paradox: In patriarchy if a male submits -- socially, erotically, whatever -- to another male, he is stigmatized as a faggot. On the other hand, patriarchy requires manly men to submit to the authority of other men.  It's not only acceptable, it's praiseworthy.  Even being penetrated sexually endows the recipient with the masculine power of the penetrator: for example, an ancient Roman dream-interpretation manual had it that a man's dream of being fucked by a social superior was a good omen, despite the normal Roman contempt for sexual passives.  In religion, men prostrate themselves before a male god.

And then there's the military.  Ah, yes.  Men prove their manhood through the trial-by-ordeal of basic training, called "ladies" by their drill sergeants, stripped of their individuality and generally abjected and abused.  I can't think of a better example than this segment from Stephen Colbert's 2009 visit to entertain US troops in Iraq.  Dressed in a camouflage suit, Colbert engaged in scripted banter with a general, who told him that if he really wanted to be a soldier, he would have to cut his hair.  Colbert pretended to demur, until President Obama appeared on a video screen and gave him a direct order.  In front of an audience of cheering grunts, the general administered a military buzz cut, which Colbert sported for the rest of his stay in Iraq. 

The sadomasochistic aspects of this scene are hard to miss; the comedy just enhances them.  Much of S&M is theatrics and ritual anyway.  Colbert was still playing his "conservative" persona at this time, but he still submitted to the authority of a "liberal" president.  That it was in the cause of Supporting the Troops ensured that Colbert wasn't unmanned by his abasement.  Context is very important: in another situation, or merely to hostile eyes, he'd have been feminized by it.  It's the ambiguity, the fact that a man can never be sure whether his submission is safe or not, that fuels male anxiety and homosexual panic.

One last comment in this vein: one guy tweeted "Just maybe, if and when Melanie drops trump, Donald & Lindsey may end up been [sic] a pair".  I noted that his bio IDs him as an ex-marine and retorted, "I bet you have your eye on Lindsey yourself.  But he's [also] a bottom, so you two wouldn't be compatible."  In my day, Marines were notorious among military trade queens -- gay men seeking to be penetrated by manly guys in uniform -- for flinging their legs in the air when one got them into bed.  I don't know how true this gossip is; but stereotypes have a way of backfiring, so I wanted to remind "The Captain" to handle them with care.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

"This Is Against My Civil Rights, I Have a Right to Be Serviced!"

This is how I, an anti-masker, think I look:

This is how I, an anti-masker, really look:

You're watching, and I hope listening to, Cindy Falco-DiCorrado, a 61-year-old Floridian warrior for God. (The entire video can be seen here.) She's apparently a well-known character in her neighborhood:

Falco-DiCorrado, a staunch Trump supporter, was forced to resign from her volunteer seat on the County's Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board in 2017, following controversial remarks made during a meeting to designate Boynton Beach a sanctuary city.

Falco-DiCorrado allegedly told Black residents at the meeting, "You're lucky we brought you over as slaves, or else you'd be deported too." She later told the Palm Beach Post her comments were misinterpreted and she didn’t mean any harm.
Of course she meant no harm, she did nothing wrong, and her comments were misinterpreted.

While I was looking for an image of Joan of Arc for this post, I noticed that many of the contemporary pictures were devotional, and almost all of those show her with long hair. The one above shows her wearing a long skirt. But Joan was burned partly for her refusal to conform to the gender norms of her day: she cut her hair short, and wore "men's clothes."  It's odd, because her gender nonconformity is a very well-known part of her legend, of her brand.  Yet those who adore her as a saint seem to need to femme her up; why, I wonder?

I think the answer is that she's a saint, so they believe they're honoring her and glorifying her by falsifying her image to suit their prejudices; which means they are actually shrinking her to their own size. It's not just saints: people tend to do this to anyone they admire: artists, politicians, athletes, Messiahs.

Friday, January 15, 2021

What Would Jesus Coup?

Last week's insurrection at the US Capitol has brought American ambivalence about political violence to the forefront in all its quivering glory.  This meme is several years old, but that makes it all the more interesting, because it was spread around by liberals and leftists -- many of the same people who are furiously indignant now that the "sacred" space of the Capitol, the People's House, was defiled by dirty rioters.

There has been a lot of disagreement about the meaning of Jesus' cleansing the Temple Court, and I'm not going to resolve the question, because it can't be resolved.  There's something to be learned, however, from the issues it raises.

As with most episodes in Jesus' story, if you've read or heard only one explanation of the cleansing of the Temple Court, you need to know that there are many others, and no one knows which one is correct.  To start with the easiest one, if Jesus didn't exist, he didn't act up in the Temple court either; but that wouldn't explain why his inventors made up this story, so we should examine its implications as story.

The next possibility is to take the story at face value: that the uproar took place as the gospels describe it.  (The gospels disagree hopelessly as to when in Jesus' career it happened, but I'll come back to that later.)  The gospels agree that Jesus was in Jerusalem for Passover, a time of year when the city was packed with pilgrims.  The Roman occupiers were nervous about the possibilities of mob violence, even an uprising, so they stationed plenty of soldiers overlooking the Temple court to watch for signs of trouble.  If, as the gospels say, Jesus blocked access to the area, it would have been hard to miss, and it was exactly the kind of thing the guards were watching for. The gospels don't mention this, only that the Jewish authorities were afraid to arrest Jesus then because of the crowds; but the Romans would have been interested in this troublemaker too.  Would all the crowds in the court have been on Jesus' side when he wouldn't let them get through to worship?  I doubt that too.  How would he have stopped them, by the force of his personality?  The evangelists don't seem to be aware of the difficulty.  Modern scholars are aware of it, and have tried to explain it.

One popular explanation is that the action was an "acted parable," intended to illustrate something or other.  Maybe, but no one told the Roman soldiers that.  I always imagine one of them saying, "Hey, Fred, look at what that guy is doing down there!  Should we move in on him?"  His buddy looks, then replies, "Not to worry, Al, it's obviously an acted parable, with no political significance whatsoever."  Even if it were an acted parable, the Temple was sacred both as a place of worship and as a national symbol; Jesus' action had an inescapable political dimension.  The rhetoric surrounding the Capitol today shows the same thing: it's both sacred to American civil religion, and a secular symbol of American Democracy, which is also sacred.  Anyway, the distinction between religion and politics is anachronistic: it didn't exist in Jesus' day or for hundreds of years afterward.  What you have here is apologetic invention, in which a scholar or preacher gets rid of a troublesome part of the Bible by making something up.

So is another claim, which comes from conservative scholars, surprisingly enough.  It takes the "acted parable" move further, by asserting that the cleansing of the Temple never happened.  It was a parable invented by the evangelists, perhaps to literalize something Jesus said that everybody misunderstood.  This has the advantage that it's impossible to disprove, but it's an odd tactic for scholars who assume the historical reliability of the gospels (except for troublesome parts like this one).

Remember that according to the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), one of the main charges at Jesus' trial was that he had threatened to destroy the Temple.  Maybe "threatened" isn't the right word, because he also promised to raise it miraculously up again, a Temple not made by human hands.  Mark claims that "false witnesses" made the accusation, but even though they'd been suborned by the Jerusalem authorities, their testimony didn't agree.  John says that when Jesus cleansed the Temple, he was challenged as to his right to do it.  "Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up again," Jesus replied (John 2:19).  "But he spoke of the Temple of his body," the evangelist explains.  None of this makes much sense: what did disrupting the Temple court have to do with his resurrection?  

John's version is all the more confusing because his Jesus cleanses the Temple and then waltzes off scot-free, two or three years before his arrest and execution; the other gospels put the event a week before his death, implying that it led to his arrest.  The other three gospels also have various Jewish teachers asking Jesus by what authority he disrupted the Temple, and Jesus asks them a trick question: what was John the Baptist's authority.  They decline to answer for fear of the mob; but why would Jesus refuse to answer them?  It isn't as if he was afraid of them: he was in Jerusalem to be arrested and executed for the sins of the world.

Now, the gospels are not reliable historical sources: they almost certainly weren't written by Jesus' original followers, and there's no way to know if any of these events happened.  My aim here is to investigate why they're so confused. I think their inventions were constrained by the need, first, to establish Jesus as a holy and innocent man who was executed by wicked, illicit authorities; and second, to show him demonstrating his power and authority by stomping on their institutions and teaching.  But Jesus agreed with them that those institutions and teachings were instituted by Yahweh. Much of the authority claimed by the early Christians depended on the validity of the Torah and the Prophets, which they appropriated for themselves at the same time they attacked it.  (The apostle Paul, for example, called the Ten Commandments "the ministry of death" [2 Corinthians 3:7] but also insisted that the Torah was holy and good.)  Similarly, there was no doubt that the Romans had executed Jesus as a criminal, an insurgent against Rome: hence the label "King of the Jews" on his cross.  So Jesus had to be simultaneously innocent and a criminal, which helps to explain the evasive way he responded to Pilate's interrogation.  The evangelists probably had no reliable information about the scene, so they had to wing it.  Jesus, like any hero, could have proven his innocence to Pilate with one hand tied behind his back, but then he wouldn't have been crucified, and he had to be crucified for historical and theological reasons.

Christians maintained this conflict ever after, as they clashed with authority both secular and religious,  though remember again that the distinction didn't exist for over a thousand years into the Christian era: the Emperor of Rome was not just a political leader but a priest serving the Roman Gods, and a god in his own person.  After Rome was Christianized (or Christianity romanized), the emperors continued to have religious roles.  Christians obeyed or disobeyed imperial authority as it suited them, merrily terrorizing "pagans" and their temples, Jews and their synagogues, and each other.  (See Michael Gaddis's There Is No Crime for Those Who Have Christ: Religious Violence in the Christian Roman Empire [California, 2005].)  While these Christian terrorists were a minority among Christians, the Church regarded them highly and made saints of quite a few of them.  Eventually the Church schismed into Western and Eastern factions, and of course into Catholic and Protestant.  

Which brings me to the January 6 attack on the Capitol.  The insurrectionists rejected some authority (Congress, the electoral process, the courts) while adhering to others (Trump, Trump, and Trump).  They extolled the police until the latter blocked them, so Blue Lives Matter was tossed aside.  Mike Pence had been a good Christian man until he failed to do Trump's bidding, and then they were ready to hang him.  Like Jesus, they flipped from open defiance of the law to insisting they had done nothing wrong or illegal, even as they smashed windows, broke down doors, and clubbed police officers with flagpoles still attached to Old Glory.  The only thing that mattered was that they were servants of the Truth, and therefore innocent no matter what they did.  If only Jesus had had access to smartphone video recordings and social media, so we could know what he thought he was doing!

Remember that the Temple court, and Jerusalem generally, was packed with pilgrim tourists for Passover.  For Jesus to stage a disruption in a crowded space, with nervous soldiers looking on, meant he was ready to put other people's lives in danger from a panicked melee and a violent response to it.  That the evangelists don't mention such an outcome is one reason why some scholars deny that the Cleansing of the Temple happened at all, though it's also possible that it did, and that was what led to Jesus' arrest, and to the arrest of the two men who were crucified with him.  But the people who celebrate Jesus' action in memes like the one above believe that Jesus did do it, and they like it as long as they can fantasize that he would be on their side.

Some of the insurrectionists pointed out that the United States was founded in insurrection, and they had a valid point there.  Much of their moral incoherence echoed that of the Left, and some of them were aware of it.  Aren't riots the language of the unheard?  Is it all right to denounce and even attack the police?  The rioters erected a gallows outside the Capitol.  Leftists had mostly confined themselves to posting memes of guillotines, but they pretended they were in earnest.  And who can forget the journalist Reza Aslan's bold declaration after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg?

That aged well, didn't it?  Aslan was ruthlessly mocked for the tweet as Amy Coney Barrett was quickly confirmed without anything being burned down, and he never responded to the criticism as far as I know, but that tweet is still there.  Sometimes I think of it as an acted parable, though its true interpretation escapes me.

I've been moving toward something like pacifism for some time now, as my dissatisfaction with Left rhetoric about killing fascists has grown. (I also have reservations about the effectiveness of nonviolent action, however.)  If I do ultimately adopt the label, it won't be for religious reasons (obviously, I hope), or for any kind of "higher" principles (there aren't any), but because the burden of argument lies on the person who advocates the use of violence.  Will it achieve its ends, and how do they know that?  Who will direct it?  How do I know that the advocate of violence isn't a police or FBI agent provocateur?  The bar of proof should be high, which advocates of violence hate, and I think that discredits them.  Whether they're on the left or the right, they're the spiritual descendants of Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, who incited the burning down of synagogues, preferably with congregants inside, so that there would be no place where Christ was denied. 

How, then, should people of good will resist the forces of Trump?  I admit I don't have a good answer, but the first thing to bear in mind is that But we've got to do something! is not an argument and should simply be dismissed out of hand.  It has corollaries, like Oh, I suppose you think we should just let literal Nazis run wild, then; this also should be dismissed with contempt.  (What pushes me close to despair is that so many people who are nominally on my side are just as irrational, and almost as malignant, as their right-wing counterparts.)  Nor do I believe that the Trumpian hordes can be persuaded by sweet reason, nor can they be "deprogrammed" (a popular proposal on liberal Twitter), nor will Love turn aside their wrath.  I'm not aware of any good ideas about this, certainly no simple ones.

I think we should be aware of what we're up against.  There seems to me good reason to believe that a hard core of people on the Right -- about 25 percent of the adult population -- are intransigent, who will not be persuaded by evidence. I'm hostile to Mitt Romney, but he was absolutely right to say that this hard core will not accept that Trump lost the election fairly, no matter how many audits or recounts are done.  It doesn't look like they are a majority of citizens or voters, so they have no democratic claim on getting their way, but that doesn't faze them.  (What we're seeing isn't new.  I remember that many such people refused to believe that Barack Obama really won in 2008 or 2012, and they demanded that Obama govern as they wanted him to, because Democrats were not allowed to win elections. I also remember some young College Republicans throwing similar tantrums about Bill Clinton in 1996: when I asked one if he really thought the victory should go to the candidate who got the least votes, he said of course not, he was just venting.  I don't think he was telling the truth about that.  But what he surely did mean was that his candidate should win no matter what.)

There's much more to say on this subject, and I'll return to it.  I am sure, though, that posting more guillotine memes will not be effective at all.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

This Is Not Who I and I Are

I've never had much use for John Oliver, the former Comedy Central and later HBO liberal Limbaugh wannabe.  I quote the following material with the caveat that it's a fan paraphrasing him.

I really like the way John Oliver put it. We elected Barack Obama and put Kamala Harris in the VP office, but in between we put a hateful white supremacist in office. All of that is who we are.

"We" elected Obama & Kamala the cop. Barack Obama bombed hospitals, droned weddings, imprisoned whistleblowers, let torturers & war criminals go unpunished, tried to prolong the US occupation of Iraq, tried to cut Social Security & Medicare, deported record numbers, turned Libya into a slave market, etc., etc.  Yet liberals still see his administration as a brief shining moment of hope and change between Dubya and Drumpf.  (To say nothing of their whitewashing of Dubya.)  Yes, it's who "we" are. 

P.S. And by the way -- seeing Obama's and Harris's skin color as a positive detail that overrides everything else about them and their political records is racist.

Friday, January 8, 2021

I'm With Stupid

There's so much going on, so quickly, that I can't decide where to begin, so here are a couple of quick takes.

Although Donald Trump is obviously a clear and present danger to the Republic, many high-placed people are trying to block his removal.  Mike Pence, for one, by refusing to invoke the Twenty-fifth Amendment;  but also those in both parties who are whining that there isn't time to impeach Trump.  I looked it up to be sure, and the United States declared war on Japan one day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.  That's at least as large and weighty an action as impeaching a would-be tyrant before he can do any more damage.  Where there's a political will, there's a way.  Those who pretend there isn't time are trying to obstruct justice, and should be regarded in that light.

Then there are the people arguing that Trump should just go to Mar-a-Lago, do nothing, and wait out the time until Biden is inaugurated.  That assumes that Trump would go in the first place, and that he would do nothing for two weeks.  Or that Trump should just "be shunned."  It would be hard for me to believe that anyone could seriously make such idiotic suggestions if I hadn't seen it so many times before.  In order for shunning to work, you need a cohesive community united in the resolution to shun, and the US is not such a community, to put it gently.  Aside from Trump's millions of supporters, there are many rich corporatists, national GOP politicians, and others just waiting for the dust to settle so they can meet with him privately and conspire some more.  Nothing improper, you understand, just a friendly discussion.  Remember how many vehement Never-Trump Republicans quietly went to work for him after he took office?  

And then there's the media, who'll be champing at the bit to get just one more little interview with him: "Mr. Trump, do you have any regrets?  What do you think you might have done differently?"  (They'd probably even call him "Mr. President" -- decorum is such a vital norm, especially in these troubled times.)  That wouldn't be a break in the shunning, it would be journalism!  The American people have a right to know these things!  They deserve answers to these questions!

On the question of failed security at the Capitol, here's a good beginning.  But someone posted this, "Cipolli's Fifth Law," as a comment.  I'm not going to bother finding out who Cipolli is or what his other laws are, because I don't give a damn:

Jeez, only a really stupid person would come up with that.  People who like to think they aren't stupid do tend to underestimate the danger from people they think are stupid, but that is because they are stupid.  One easy example: gay people and allies who were shocked by the virulence of antigay bigots in the antigay initiatives of the 70s through the 90s: they had no idea that people could be so awful! This was echoed by the Obama administration's shock that the GOP weren't going to play nice, despite ample evidence and overt declarations. These people aren't smart. Mostly they're privileged twits who've led very sheltered lives.  As in Obama's case, their stupidity does most harm to other people, the people at the bottom, whom they despise, while they coast serenely along in their $14M Martha's Vineyard mansions.

That said, it's fun to see reports of members of the Capitol mob who took selfies and videos of their antics and posted them to social media, confident of their impunity -- only to find themselves greeted by police when they returned home.  Several have lost their jobs.  Schadenfreude is a dangerous drug, but I'm in complete control!  I can quit anytime!

More to come, but meanwhile remember: it isn't over yet.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Be Specific, Sir, If You Please...?

I'm not going to go into today's attempted coup in Washington (but it wasn't only there) because events have been succeeding each other too rapidly and I prefer to wait until things are sorted out.  It may be worth noticing, however, that at least one Democratic Congressman is ready to forgive and forget and move on:

I just asked Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) about this:

“The idea of taking the time to try to impeach him, the idea of trying to expel members of the House of Senate for their efforts to protect the President and continue this fiction ... I just think we need to turn the page."
So, it emerges, is Nancy Pelosi; the list is bound to grow longer.  But for now, I'm going to finish the post I began this morning.  It was already fairly certain by then that Raphael Warnock had won the Georgia senatorial runoff against Kelly Loeffler, though the race between Jon Ossoff and David Perdue was still too close to call.  So NPR's Noel King got Warnock on the line and asked him some typical NPR questions, trying to get him to confess that he is a member of the Communist International and wants to nationalize white women.

KING: President Trump asked Georgia's secretary of state to change the results of the presidential election. Many Republicans, including your opponent, didn't criticize him for doing that. Do you think that part of the Republican Party has abandoned democracy?

WARNOCK: Listen. The four most powerful words in a democracy are the people have spoken. The people of Georgia spoke very clearly on November 3 when they elected Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, gave them our 16 electoral votes. We counted those votes three times. It is clear when you look at the swing states all across our country, Joe Biden is president-elect. And unfortunately, there are enablers of this nonsense in the United States Senate. And it's why the people who I'm running into all across Georgia are frustrated with politics. And quite frankly, it's why I got in - because we can't outsource our democracy to politicians. The people have to rise up, reclaim their own voice in their own democracy. And that's what happened last night right here in the state of Georgia.

I've never heard Warnock speaking before, and I recommend listening to the clip.  This interview was early in the morning after Election Night, and I imagine he was worn out from the intense campaign, which I hope explains his dull delivery and robotic soundbyte content.  (Since I wrote this I've seen a clip of Warnock delivering a sermon full of fire and prophetic fury, so I was probably right about his condition while talking to King.)  But maybe I expected too much after all the kvelling I saw about his Black Church eloquence.  King was obnoxious as she usually is with any interviewee who is or might be left of center: 

KING: What do you think Congress needs to do now to help Americans through the coronavirus pandemic and specific, sir, if you could, please?

WARNOCK: We ought to pass the $2,000 stimulus.


WARNOCK: I mean, folks waited for months without getting any relief at all. And when we saw relief in the spring, too often, it centered large corporate businesses while small businesses were at the back of the line. It left workers out. And so people need immediate relief. And we've got to get this virus under control. We've got to get the vaccine safely and efficiently distributed so that we can safely reopen our economy, get our businesses roaring again, get our children back into school, but in a way that's safe and sustainable. These are big issues.

Warnock's responses weren't bad, exactly; again, I think he was exhausted.  What he said here, except for coming down firmly for a $2K stimulus payment, sounds like centrist boilerplate to me.

KING: Let me ask you lastly about the work. Where do you stand on the progressive or moderate scale? Let me put a direct question to you. Do you think the Senate should push for progressive climate legislation like the Green New Deal?

WARNOCK: I think that we need common-sense reform on a whole range of issues. There's no question that climate change is real. There's work we need to do on that front. And I'll be focused on getting that work done. I think too often, even in the places where there is agreement, at least among ordinary people, that we need movement, we get no movement. And that's quite frankly because someone other than the people own our democracy. And so one of the things that I'll be very focused on is the outsized influence of well-connected corporate interests in our politics. I think if the people can get their democracy back, we can get the reform that we need around issues of environmental justice, around health care and the whole range of concerns.

The "progressive or moderate scale" is hooey, of course - the question, as King phrased it, makes little sense.  In a way, Warnock tried to reframe it, but invoking "common-sense reform" isn't a good way to put it.  I'd have taken the stance that the Green New Deal, or government-run healthcare (which Warnock, like Ossoff, opposes), or a higher minimum wage, or higher taxes on the rich, let alone more and bigger stimulus payments, are favored by a solid majority of Americans.  That makes them moderate by definition, I would say, and I believe Warnock meant that by "common-sense."  Any politician (or radio personality) who opposes them is a marginal right-wing extremist -- definitely not a centrist.

NPR's anchors are almost always uncomfortable with, even hostile to, anyone outside that extreme-right Beltway consensus.  If you listen to the audio you can hear King trying to keep Warnock at a safe distance.  I know I'm not the only person who gets impatient with their clumsy questions, typical of the Washington press corps.  Maybe they're too busy, and don't have time to inform themselves properly?  I don't believe so, but even if that's the case, they need to demand more time, asserting the need to maintain professional standards.  The real trouble is that they see themselves as gatekeepers, the responsible objective moderates between the extremes of left and right. They aren't -- as I said, they're really far right -- but even if they were, fetishizing the middle is a guarantee of getting things wrong.

And Warnock?  I'll wait and see, but I'm not happy with having another religious nut in national office.  Remember how Barack Obama's deeply-held religious beliefs made him oppose same-sex marriage - though not letting torturers and war criminals escape legal penalties, or murdering teenagers with drones?  Even if Warnock turns out to agree with me on many or most issues, I don't care what he thinks his god wants, and it's irrelevant to the job he now has to do.  The best I can say is that a successful minister also has to be something of a politician, balancing different interests in his or her congregation.  I saw a lot of giggly excitement from liberals and leftists about how Warnock is a real Christian who follows Christ's teaching.  Nobody follows Christ's teaching, and Christ's teaching is not the law of this land.  Funny how liberals flipflop on whether America is a Christian nation as the winds change.