Linky Friday: To Link It, Link It Good!
As always, all the pieces in Linky Friday are presented for discussion purposes, and the views therein are those of the authors alone, not Ordinary Times.
[LF1] Inside the Lincoln Project’s Secrets, Side Deals and Scandals by Danny Hakim, Maggie Astor and Jo Becker in NY Times
You could see it coming from a mile away. As soon as the Lincoln Project was founded by folks that were well known for not being good people to start with, something like this was inevitable, and now here we are…
The behind-the-scenes moves by the four original founders showed that whatever their political goals, they were also privately taking steps to make money from the earliest stages, and wanted to limit the number of people who would share in the spoils. Over time, the Lincoln Project directed about $27 million — nearly a third of its total fund-raising — to Mr. Galen’s consulting firm, from which the four men were paid, according to people familiar with the arrangement.
Conceived as a full-time attack machine against Mr. Trump, the Lincoln Project’s public profile soared last year as its founders built a reputation as a creative yet ruthless band of veteran operators. They recruited like-minded colleagues, and their scathing videos brought adulation from the left and an aura of mischievous idealism for what they claimed was their mission: nothing less than to save democracy.
They also hit upon a geyser of cash, discovering that biting attacks on a uniquely polarizing president could be as profitable in the loosely regulated world of political fund-raising as Mr. Trump’s populist bravado was for his own campaign.
Then it all began to unravel. By the time of the Utah meeting, the leaders of the Lincoln Project — who had spent their careers making money from campaigns — recognized the value of their enterprise and had begun to maneuver for financial gain. But other leaders had learned of the financial arrangement among the original founders, and they were privately fuming.
Another major problem was festering: the behavior of Mr. Weaver, who for years had been harassing young men with sexually provocative messages.
Allegations about Mr. Weaver’s conduct began appearing in published reports in The American Conservative and Forensic News this winter. In late January, The New York Times reported on allegations going back several years. The Times has spoken to more than 25 people who received harassing messages, including one person who was 14 when Mr. Weaver first contacted him.
[LF2] The Jordan Rules; A Review of Beyond Order: 12 More Rules For Life by Jordan Peterson by Matthew McManus in Arc Digital
Matthew McManus reads it, so we don’t have too…and finds Peterson is starting to repeat himself more than anything else.
Whether right or wrong it is remarkable that Peterson doesn’t consider the Nietzschean argument that many of the doctrines he despises are not “alternatives” to Christianity — they’re Christianity redux. Were he alive today Nietzsche would probably tell the University of Toronto Professor to go down the hall to the Women’s Studies department if he really wants to see what Christianity looks like in the postmodern era.
Beyond Order is a fine self-help book but a bad guide to politics and the history of political ideas. It also showcases that Peterson seems unable to move past the framework and ideas he’s been running with since 1999’s Maps of Meaning. It is getting to the point where a lot of his stuff is just being recycled almost verbatim, right down to yet another long exposition of the myth of Marduk which was already analyzed over dozens of pages in that first book and again in papers like “Religion, Sovereignty, Natural Rights, and the Constituent Elements of Experience.”
Two Takes on the Covid Relief Bill: First Up: It Didn’t Go Far Enough:
[LF3] Joe Biden’s COVID Relief Bill is Rightfully Bringing Back Government Handouts by Hadas Thier at Jacobin
Last year, the US economy shrank by an incredible 3.5 percent. Jobs are beginning to come back, but the US economy is still almost ten million jobs behind where it was before the pandemic. The official unemployment number rate dropped down to just over 6 percent, but once you count the number of workers who have stopped looking for work, the number reaches 9.5 percent.
We should embrace this partial victory for what it is — and fight like hell for more.
The recession has impacted low-wage workers and people of color most. They fell into the deepest holes and have been the slowest to regain their jobs. Black and Latina women in particular have suffered the greatest employment losses relative to where they were at before the pandemic.
The latest stimulus bill will not definitively answer the crisis, and it certainly won’t be enough to fundamentally shift the depth of the wealth inequality behind it. But it will make a substantial difference in people’s lives, and in the process create a fertile terrain for the Left to organize.
On the one hand, Americans will see the concrete impact of government benefits to their lives, and anti-welfare ideology’s credibility will be further eroded. On the other hand, while Democrats hope to make at least the child tax credit permanent, their commitment to that project (as well as to raising the minimum wage or maintaining federal unemployment enhancement) is only as strong as it doesn’t irritate corporate America or face too strong of an opposition from their Republican counterparts.
In that context, the Left should throw itself into organizing to make benefits like the child credit permanent. Success on that front will bring us further down the road toward rebuilding a welfare state, and building the kind of confidence and fighting capacity necessary to fight for an increased minimum wage, Medicare For All, and much more. We should embrace this partial victory for what it is — and fight like hell for more.
Second Up: It Went Way Too Far
President Biden just signed his sweeping $1.9 trillion spending package into law. Once this bill hits the books, total taxpayer expenditure on (ostensibly) COVID relief will hit $6 trillion—which, roughly estimated, comes out to $41,870 in spending per federal taxpayer.
Did you see anywhere near that much in benefit?
The sheer immensity of this spending is hard to grasp. For context, $6 trillion is more than one-fourth of what the US economy produces in an entire year, according to Fox Business. The COVID spending blowout is at least eight times bigger than the (inflation-adjusted) price tag of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal.”
Moreover, the COVID spending bills have all lost huge sums of money to unrelated carve-outs, politician pet projects, corporate bailouts, fraud, waste, and worse.
In the latest $1.9 trillion package, more than 90 percent of the spending is not directly related to containing COVID-19. Only 1 percent of the money, about $15 to $20 billion, is spent on vaccines. Meanwhile, hundreds of billions go to bailing out poorly managed state governments’ budget holes that predate the pandemic and $86 billion rescues failing pension plans. Meanwhile, billions more go to Obamacare expansion and subsidizing public schools long after the pandemic.
And that’s just scratching the surface.
If you are not familiar, Beth Moore split from both the SBC but also Lifeway, the “sell stuff” arm of the SBC of which Moore sold as much if not more stuff than anyone. This is after the Trump years of her taking all sorts of abuse for her outspoken opposition to the former president, among other issues with the rank and file.
As one Southern Baptist women’s ministry leader tweeted on Wednesday, “Pastors, I hope you are watching women in the SBC and their response to Beth Moore …”
Moore was in many ways an exemplary figure in the Southern Baptist realm—a household name among Christians, her Bible studies reached 21 million women over her first 20 years of ministry. But she was also personable enough to stand for hugs and selfies with followers at events and would reply on Twitter to offer condolences when someone’s grandmother died or advice on how to care for a cast-iron pan.
Many fellow Southern Baptist women were sad but not surprised that she decided to leave the SBC. The women who followed in her high-heeled footsteps know the tensions Moore walked through too well, dismayed at how issues like abuse, racism, Christian nationalism, and the Trump presidency were dividing the denomination rather than deepening its gospel witness—all issues that came up in a recent Religion News Service story about her decision.
Followers in Southern Baptist churches watched as Moore, now 63, grew from a best-selling Bible study author to an outspoken advocate for victims of sexism and abuse over the past five years, opening up about the misogyny she had faced in evangelical circles.
In addition to taking issue with her role speaking and teaching in churches, critics saw Moore’s outspokenness on current issues as divisive. They believe she wrongly maligned the church in recent years when she decried pastors who defended Donald Trump or called out white supremacy in the church.
Christine Hoover, a Bible teacher and SBC pastor’s wife, remembers asking herself, “If Beth is treated so disdainfully in public arenas, what is being said privately, and what does that say about how, in practice, the SBC values the contribution of women to the kingdom?”
“I can’t overstate how much of an impact Beth has had on women in our churches,” Hoover said. “I was in rooms in those years with SBC female leaders from all corners of the convention who said they, too, were paying close attention, most of us wondering if we as women actually have an honored place in the SBC.”
The president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Russell Moore—no relation to Beth, though he often joked they were family—once said, “A Southern Baptist Convention that doesn’t have a place for Beth Moore doesn’t have a place for a lot of us.”
The remark came two years ago, when Moore had been targeted during yet another spat over women’s roles, spurred by a tweet that referenced giving a Mother’s Day message at church.
Harry and Meghan’s honesty was raw and powerful — a power confirmed by the rather transparent countermeasures taken by the The Firm before the interview even aired. In February, the palace announced that the Sussexes would be stripped of their titles and royal patronage appointments. Then the tabloids trotted out a barrage of anonymously sourced stories painting Meghan as a monster. They recycled the old story about her bullying staffers, called her out for having worn “blood money” earrings in 2018 that were given to her by the Saudi crown prince, and charged that her taste for avocado toast amounts to “fueling drought and murder.” The bizarre and desperate attacks only served to prove what the Sussexes told Oprah about the abuse they endured.
“I don’t know how they could expect that after all of this time, we would still just be silent,” Meghan said. “If there is an active role that the firm is playing in perpetuating falsehoods about us, at a certain point you gotta go, You guys, just tell the truth. If that comes at a risk of losing things, well, there’s a lot that’s been lost already.”
It didn’t have to be this way. The British monarchy could have welcomed Meghan as a much-needed breath of fresh air into a stodgy, white and outdated institution. The Black gospel choir singing “Stand By Me” at the royal wedding in England really felt like it may be ushering in a new, more palatable era for the royal family. But instead of helping to modernize and diversify The Firm, in the end, Meghan had little choice but to expose its pernicious racism, bullying and unacceptable lack of HR standards.
And so for now, in the absurd war of Meghan vs. the British monarchy, Meghan appears to be winning. Diana left Harry enough inheritance that the two can continue to be absurdly wealthy in California and afford their own security without financial help from the palace. The couple have a baby girl on the way and say they’re happier than ever. Meghan said she feels like Ariel in “The Little Mermaid.” “She falls in love with the prince, and because of that, she has to lose her voice,” she told Oprah in one of the more poignant moments of the interview. “But in the end, she gets her voice back.”
Ideas are one thing, implementation is another matter all together…
Community activists said Thursday that the Raleigh Police Advisory Board was created just for show and cannot provide any real oversight of the police department because it is handcuffed by a lack of power and resistance within city government. “The board the city gave us is not the board we asked for, and we kind of had a feeling this was going to take place,” said Surena Johnson, coalition coordinator for Raleigh PACT, or Police Accountability Community Taskforce.
Two people on the nine-member board resigned Wednesday, less than a year into the job, citing a lack of confidence with the board’s leadership and problems with city officials. Activists said the resignations highlight problems with the board, and they put forward a list of demands for city leaders that they say will improve the board’s operations:
–Lobby state lawmakers for increased police advisory board powers, such as the ability to investigate complaints against officers and issue subpoenas.
–Have the City Attorney’s Office state the legal reasoning for the Raleigh Police Department to withhold some department policies from the advisory board.
–Allow the board to operate independently of City Manager Marchell Adams-David and Audrea Caesar, director of the city’s Office of Equity and Inclusion. (One of the members who resigned said she felt both Adams-David and Caesar favored the police department in interactions with the board.)
–Hold the line on police department spending and invest more money in mental health support programs, homelessness reduction initiatives and other social programs. “We believe more power would lead to more transparency and trust,” advisory board member Greear Webb said. “We cannot conduct investigations, cannot subpoena, cannot access personnel files or understand what actions have been taken against police officers.”
Police department leaders fought the idea of an outside advisory board for years, and it was set up only to review departmental policies and bridge gaps between the department and the community, not investigate any complaints against officers. One of the board’s first tasks was to review a consultant’s findings and recommendations on the department’s handling of racial justice protests and subsequent riots last summer. Even that review requires access to policies on use of tear gas and responding to protests, which the board doesn’t have access to, activist Kerwin Pittman said.
“They are asking for things we can not do legally,” Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said. “The board we have constructed is what we can do legally.” Baldwin said some of the demands would have to be granted through changes in state law, adding that the city has written to lawmakers to expand the board’s power.
Durham’s Civilian Police Review Board has had such powers for over two decades.
If you missed this one the first time around, it’s been getting new run with former president Barack Obama having commented and shared on social media.
Let’s start with numbers: In 2016, non-college-educated whites swung roughly 10 percent against the Democratic Party. And then, in 2018, roughly 30 percent of those Obama-Trump voters ended up supporting Democrats down ballot. In 2020, only 10 percent of Obama-Trump voters came home for Biden.
So I think what this shows: There is a long-term trend of increasing education polarization here and in every other country in the West. But the fact that education polarization declined significantly in 2018 — when Trump wasn’t on the ballot — and picked up again in 2020 suggests that Trump is personally responsible for a significant portion of America’s education polarization. I think that there’s a really strong case that this transition was specifically about Donald Trump.
A lot of people theorized that we first alienated Obama-Trump voters during the fight over comprehensive immigration reform and that their rightward movement was already apparent in 2014. But if you actually look at panel data, it seems really clear that these people didn’t start identifying as Republicans until Trump won the GOP nomination. I think there’s a very strong empirical argument that Donald Trump was the main driver of the polarization we’ve seen since 2016. He just personally embodies this large cultural divide between cosmopolitan college-educated voters and a large portion of non-college-educated voters. Those divides take a lot of different forms: attitudes toward race, attitudes toward gender, opinions on what kinds of things you’re allowed to say, or how you should conduct yourself. And you know, as Trump became the nominee, and as the media made politics the Donald Trump Show for the last four years, that led to increasing political polarization on attitudes toward Donald Trump specifically. I think the reason why we saw less education-based voting in 2018 is that Trump was a smaller part of the media environment than he had been in 2016 or would be in 2020.
This Week At Ordinary Times:
Growing up in the System by John McCumber
There are still too many people of my experience trying to apply their “the system” to today’s problems and today’s jobs.
Justice, Bail, and Bigo Behaving Badly by Em Carpenter
The judge called Richard “Bigo” Barnett “brazen, entitled, and dangerous.” What would I tell Mr. Richard Barnett if he were my client?
The Two Year Chit: A Filibuster Suggestion by Burt Likko
What might be done to mitigate the contra-democratic effect the peculiar tradition of filibuster has in the Senate? Burt Likko has an idea.
Saturday Morning Gaming: Digging In The Back Catalog by Jaybird
Going back and digging out games that I had intended to beat, but never, did with Hand of Fate and Ruiner
OT Contributor Network: John McCumber Talks ZZ Top
Ordinary Time Contributor John McCumber joined Keith Conrad on his “The Greatest Story Ever Podcast” talk about driving ZZ Top.
OT Contributor Network: Dennis Sanders’ Polite Company Podcast
Ordinary Times contributor Dennis Sanders podcast, Polite Company, has a new episode entitled “We Have Some Healing to Do”
Game of Thrones: Ready, Willing, and Ableism by Kristin Devine
The eyeroller disdainfully says “Game of Thrones is just show!” But problematic beliefs like ableism are like belly buttons, we all got em.
Sunday Morning! “The Prisoner” by Marcel Proust by Rufus F.
The Prisoner by Marcel Proust’s depiction of doomed and obsessive sexual jealousy is not nearly as bleak as I remembered. It’s tragic, but it’s a light tragedy.
What is the Goal of Vaccine Discourse? by Eric Medlin
The goal of vaccine discourse should be to share information that will push as many people as possible to legally obtain the vaccine.
Cancellation, Culture, and Copyright by Daniel Takash
What separates the Dr. Seuss incident from more recent cancellations is that it has turned into a discussion of copyright terms
Wednesday Writs: Chief Justice Roberts All By Himself by Em Carpenter
Chief Justice Roberts finds the majority’s decision to be an unwise expansion on the power and purview of federal courts
They are Newton’s Laws of Motion by Vikram Bath
It seems like students should at least be told that others refer to them as Newton’s laws of motion even as they chose to refer to them differently.
Mini-Throughput: Rubin Observatory Edition by Michael Siegel
This amazing feat of engineering is going to make a huge number of breakthroughs on some of the outstanding problems in astrophysics.