Friday, October 08, 2021

Friday Morning Male Beauty


The Dumbing Down of America

Most of the so-called "greatest generation" that won WWII and made America a super power have died or will soon do so.  Perhaps this is a good thing because it's hard to believe that many of them would be appalled at what America is becoming and how one of the major political parties celebrates ignorance and idiocy and places partisan gamesmanship far ahead of the national interest.  Yes, America still has wonderful schools and colleges and universities, but a growing segment of the population has thrown aside a belief in science and even objective reality and instead focuses solely on hate and resentment and allows itself to be lead by frauds and charlatans and proponents of insane conspiracy theories. Currently, in Virginia Beach demands by a handful of "cultural conservatives" - read racist religious fanatics - want certain books ban because they are "pornographic" - even though the complainants have rad the books - or because they embrace the "Project's" look at slavery and racism in America.  A column in the Washington Post questions how long America can survive as it races toward mass ignorance.  Here are excerpts:

T.S. Eliot wrote that the world ends "not with a bang but a whimper,” but I fear our great nation is careening toward a third manner of demise: descent into lip-blubbering, self-destructive idiocy.

How did we become, in such alarming measure, so dumb? Why is the news dominated by ridiculous controversies that should not be controversial at all? When did so many of our fellow citizens become full-blown nihilists who deny even the concept of objective reality? And how must this look to the rest of the world?

Read the headlines and try not to weep:

Our elected representatives in the U.S. Senate, which laughably calls itself “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” agreed Thursday not to wreck our economy and trigger a global recession — at least for a few weeks. Republicans had refused to raise the federal debt ceiling, or even to let Democrats do so quickly by simple majority vote. They relented only after needlessly unsettling an international financial system based on the U.S. dollar.

In the end, yes, we always agree to pay our obligations. But the credit rating of the planet’s greatest economic superpower has already been lowered because of this every-few-years ritual, and each time we stage the absurd melodrama, we risk a miscalculation that sends us over the fiscal cliff.

Today’s trench-warfare political tribalism makes that peril greater than ever. An intelligent and reasonable Congress would eliminate the debt ceiling once and for all. Our Congress is neither.

In other news, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) was speaking to a crowd of Republicans at a country club in his home state Saturday when he tried, gently, to boost South Carolina’s relatively low rate of vaccination against the coronavirus. He began, “If you haven’t had the vaccine, you ought to think about getting it because if you’re my age — ”

“No!” yelled many in the crowd.

Graham retreated — “I didn’t tell you to get it; you ought to think about it” — and then defended his own decision to get vaccinated. But still the crowd shouted him down. Seriously, people?

Covid-19 is a highly infectious disease that has killed more than 700,000 Americans over the past 20 months. The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines all but guarantee that recipients will not die from covid.

Most of the deaths the nation has suffered during the current delta-variant wave of the disease — deaths of the unvaccinated — have been similarly needless and senseless.

Covid-19 is a bipartisan killer. . . . People in most of the rest of the world realize, however, that vaccination is not political at all; it is a matter of life and death, and also a matter of how soon — if ever — we get to resume our normal lives.

Why would people not protect their own health and save their own lives? How is this anything but just plain stupid?

We are having other fights that are, unlike vaccination, partisan and political — but equally divorced from demonstrable fact.

Conservatives in state legislatures across the country are pushing legislation to halt the teaching of “critical race theory” in public schools. I put the term in quotes because genuine critical race theory, a dry and esoteric set of ideas debated in obscure academic journals, is not actually being taught in those schools at all. What’s being taught instead — and squelched — is American history, which happens to include slavery, Jim Crow repression and structural racism.

The GOP has become the party of White racial grievance, and this battle against an imaginary enemy stirs the base. But the whole charade involves Republican officials — many of them educated at the nation’s top schools — betting that their constituents are too dumb to know they’re being lied to. So far, the bet is paying off.

And then, of course, there’s the whole “stolen election” farce, which led to the tragedy of Jan. 6. Every recount, every court case, every verifiable fact proves that Joe Biden fairly defeated Donald Trump. Yet a sizeable portion of the American electorate either can’t do basic arithmetic or doesn’t believe that one plus one always equals two.

How dumb can a nation get and still survive? Idiotically, we seem determined to find out.

I truly fear for the future in which my grandchildren will have to live.

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Thursday Morning Male Beauty


The French Catholic Church: A Staggering Pattern of Sexual Abuse

The huge scale of the sexual abuse on minors within the Roman Catholic Church by clergy over the decades continues to shock the conscience of both those raised within the Church and outside observers.  The hypocrisy of the Church hierarchy which has often tried to pretend the problem was due to "a few bad apples" and typically resisted compensation for the victims of what is truly a global conspiracy of silence is likewise stagger - especially given the Church's dogma that seeks to restrict sex to procreatino and demonizes same sex relationships. Looking back, I am amazed that I allowed this morally bankrupt institution shame me and to istill self-hate within me for my sexual orientation.  A new report out of France shows that hundreds of thousands of youth - mostly boys under age 13 - were sexually abused since 1950.  And like everywhere else on the globe, the Church tried to cover it up.  Crocodile tears from Pope Francis and some within the Church hierarchy will never atone for the horrors done to children and youths by thousands of members of the clergy.  A piece in The Economist looks at the shocking report which sadly should be a surprise to no one.  Here are highlights:

THE SHEER NUMBER was overwhelming: between 1950 and 2020 at least 216,000 children were sexually abused in France by Catholic clergy. Thus, on October 5th, concluded a two-year, independent inquiry commissioned by the church. Jean-Marc Sauvé, the president of the commission that conducted the investigation, said it uncovered “the lead weight of silence smothering the crimes” committed by 2,900-3,200 clergy. If lay members were also included, the number of abused could reach 330,000.

In a report that runs to thousands of pages, Mr Sauvé’s introduction is chilling and unflinching: “for a very long time the Catholic church’s immediate reaction was to protect itself as an institution and it has shown complete, even cruel, indifference to those having suffered abuse.” About 90% of the victims were boys, many between ten and 13 years old.

As was revealed after reports of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in other countries, including America, Chile, Germany and Ireland, the crimes in France involved a sinister web of misplaced trust, manipulated authority, concealment, silence and shame. The abuse was not confined to a particular region, or diocese, but was spread across the country:  . . . François Devaux, who suffered sexual abuse at the age of ten and eventually founded a victims group, called what they had gone through simply “hell”.

It was the efforts of survivors such as Mr Devaux to break the silence that forced the church to confront its denials and cover-ups. He was among those who came forward in 2015 to accuse Bernard Preynat, a priest in Lyon and scout leader, of sexual abuse. Mr Preynat was convicted last year. Those accusations also gave rise in 2019 to the resignation of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who was convicted of covering up the Preynat affair (although the conviction was overturned on appeal).

France has an unusual relationship with Catholicism, due chiefly to strict secular rules, known as laïcité, entrenched by law in 1905 and designed to keep the state neutral in religious affairs. Catholic schools, which are all private, cater only to a small minority of pupils. The country lacks the wide network of church-linked boarding schools and powerful state institutions that helped to conceal paedophilia in some other countries. Yet this proved no protection for the victims.

Today, the Catholic church in France is a hollowed-out version of its former self. It struggles to recruit priests. Numbering 12,000 today, the priesthood is half what it was 20 years ago—and half of those serving are older than 75. Moreover the French today wear their religion lightly, if at all. Only 49% say they believe in God. Two years ago, as the scandal began to emerge, 56% said in one survey that they held a bad image of the Catholic church. This week’s report will entrench these trends.

The Catholic church is not the only arena of French society in which deceit and denial of sexual abuse have been uncovered in recent years. Another is politics, where, until #MeToo, abuse and sexual violence, mostly towards women, tended to be covered up. And, as recounted in two recent books*, members of left-bank Parisian circles deployed the principle of sexual liberty to mask abuse, including incest. By exposing the manipulation and cruelty of the predators, those brave enough to speak out, as in the report on the Catholic church, may also prevent such abuse in the future from going undetected for so long.

 I suspect that similar commissions around the world would find similar results in country after country.

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Wednesday Morning Male Beauty


Youngkin Turns to Racism and Homophobia to Rally His Base

Even before he won the GOP gibernatorial primary, there were disturbing signs that Glenn Youngkin is not what he is pretending to be.  The strongest sign was Younkin's support by The Family Foundation ("TFF"), Virginia's leading hate group with antecedents among segregationists and those who supported "Massive Resistance" and closed Virginia's schools rather than allow black students to attend and then set up all white "Christian academies."  TFF has also long been a leading disseminator of anti-LGBT lies and used gys as a perenial bogeyman to frighten the ignorant and bigoted. Now, in the final streach of the gubernatorial race, Youngkin is turning to open racism and anti-LGBT bigorty to rally the toxic base of the Virginia GOP.   Businesses and so-called country club Republicans need to wake up as to who they are getting in bed with if the support Youngkin.  Likewise, Democrats need a wake up call and need to get energized if they don't want to be shocked the day after election day like was the case in 2016.   A piece in the Washington Post looks at how Youngkin is using the cnard of "critical race theory" - which is nowhere in the curriculum of Virginia's public schools - to rally the racists and white supremacists who want to write blacks and minorities (and gays) out of America's history.  Here are excerpts:

Until recently, Lauren Shupp, a software designer who lives in Northern Virginia, paid little attention to state politics, convinced that her life was shaped more by policies made in Washington than in Richmond.

But Shupp’s focus has shifted in the past year, as she has grown dissatisfied with the public schools and convinced that teachers would educate her children “through a lens of race.” Shupp, who twice voted for Donald Trump for president after backing Barack Obama, attributes her concerns about this “lens of race” to the influence of the Democratic Party, which is why she is supporting Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin.

But whether the uproar can help Republicans galvanize voters in left-leaning communities is a key question in the contest for governor. . . . .[Youngkin] also is trying to tap into the charged debates engulfing public schools, particularly in places like Loudoun County, where parents have protested equity initiatives they associate with critical race theory (CRT), the academic framework that examines how systemic racism is ingrained in the country’s history.

Despite the fact that it is not part of classroom teaching, CRT has catalyzed opposition in Virginia and across the country, as conservative leaders and pundits have invoked it to lambaste liberals. Trump, who endorsed Youngkin, has described CRT as a “toxic” and “poisonous left-wing doctrine” that is “flagrant racism, plain and simple.”

Stephen Farnsworth, a University of Mary Washington political science professor, said turning CRT into a target is a way to motivate Republicans in a nonpresidential election year, when voter turnout tends to be lower.

“The threat that there’s some evil outside force pushing a radical agenda into your elementary school is a vehicle for getting people energized,” he said. “It’s more about turnout of the base than persuasion.”

In Loudoun late last month , hundreds of people attended a rally outside the county’s school board meeting, cheering as a roster of speakers denigrated the district’s transgender policy and CRT. Alongside yard signs bemoaning “Critical Racist Theory,” there were others promoting Youngkin’s candidacy.

In early September, hundreds cheered when he repeated the promise at a rally in Loudoun County organized by conservative activists protesting CRT. “We’ve watched what this liberal-left-progressive agenda in Richmond has done to our children, and guess what?” Youngkin said. “We’ve had enough.”

McAuliffe responded that Youngkin was using CRT as “a big dog whistle. I really hate it. It divides people.”

It's not just racial minorities that Youngkin is using as a bogeyman to scare the "deplorables" in Donald Trump's base to support him.  He's also going after LGBT Virginians and signaling that he supports censoring gays out of the Commonwealth's public schools.  In this regard he is working hand in hand with TFF and other leading anti-LGBT hate groups as reported by the American Independent.  Here are article highlights:

Glenn Youngkin, the Republican nominee in the Virginia governor's race, spent Saturday night at an event hosted by an anti-LGBTQ political group based in Virginia.

The gala was hosted by the Family Foundation, a Richmond, Virginia-based group with a long history of anti-LGBTQ activism. Kayleigh McEnany, the former White House press secretary, was a keynote speaker at the event.

Youngkin's association with the organization comes after the release of Youngkin digital ad taking the side of two women who attended a Fairfax County School Board meeting on Sept. 23 to complain about public school libraries carrying "LGBTQ-themed books"

"I am here to protest the use of Fairfax taxpayers' money in a campaign to normalize homoerotic material with minors," Adrienne Henzel, one of the women featured in the Youngkin campaign ad, told the school board.

She added that the pro-LGBTQ library books were part of a larger "indoctrination effort."

In March, the Family Foundation filed a lawsuit challenging a Virginia state policy that aims to make schools more trans-inclusive by allowing trans students to use names, pronouns, and facilities that correspond with their gender. A circuit court judge dismissed the lawsuit in July.

The group has also opposed marriage equality and has expressed support for "conversion therapy," the harmful practice that operates under the falsity that LGBTQ people can be forced to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

On Sept. 29, the organization posted on its website that "school boards across the state have become the epicenter for parents opposed to teachings incorporating the core tenets of 'Critical Race Theory' and LGBTQ+ ideology." It highlighted an exchange between Youngkin and McAuliffe during a gubernatorial debate on Sept. 28 where the moderator questioned McAuliffe on how he believes schools should implement these policies.

The Family Foundation event Youngkin attended listed the Alliance Defending Freedom, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated as an anti-LGBTQ hate group, as one of its sponsoring organizations.

In a gubernatorial debate last week, Youngkin claimed that public schools in Virginia have refused to "engage with parents" who were "so upset because there was such sexually explicit material in the library that they had never seen."

Youngkin has also spoken out against transgender equality during the course of the campaign.

On Sept. 29, Youngkin shared a campaign ad featuring parts of their exchange on education and video from the Fairfax County School Board meeting held on Sept. 23. Two speakers said they thought that two books, Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe and Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison, which were found in the district's high school libraries were inappropriate for students. The books were subsequently pulled from the shelves.

"Are you a parent who wants to have a say in your child's education? Too bad. Terry McAuliffe says you have to sit down and shut up," Youngkin's campaign tweeted alongside the video.

"If I had a statement, it would be 'Read the book or sit down,'" Evison told the Washington Post. "I feel like these people are frightened because they’re losing the culture wars."

McAuliffe, for his part, has slammed Youngkin for refusing to support LGBTQ students in Virginia. "People who want to demonize children — I just don't understand," McAuliffe said at last week's debate. "I want every child in Virginia to get a quality education."

We cannot afford to have Youngkin in the governor's mansion. Vote a straight Democrat ticket in November.

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Tuesday Morning Male Beauty


What’s Wrong With Kyrsten Sinema?

I have known a lot of politicians over the years - and still do - and many of them have big egos.  That said, most still can get to a point where policy considerations and benefits to the citizenry take second place to their egos.  Kyrsten Sinema apparntly is not such a politican.  Rather than mere ego, as a column in the New York Times suggests, she is a narcisist who is willing to destroy the Democrat Party, Joe Biden's presidency - and even cause Virginia to lose having a Democrat governor thanks to the aggrivation among Democrats she is causing  - to indulge her narcissism.  One has to wonder at her thinking (or lack thereof) given that her approval ratingsd to Arizona among Democrats is in the toilet and she's delusional if she thinks she will somehow win Republican votes to make up for the fury Democrats are directing to her. Equally bizarre is her abandonment of what she once supposedly stood for.  Personally, I have no use for her and hope she has a primary challenger.  In its cold open Saturday Night Live rightly brutalized her. Here are column highlights: 

In 2003, Joe Lieberman, at the time one of the worst Democratic senators, traveled to Arizona to campaign for his party’s presidential nomination and was regularly greeted by antiwar demonstrators. “He’s a shame to Democrats,” said the organizer of a protest outside a Tucson hotel, a left-wing social worker named Kyrsten Sinema. “I don’t even know why he’s running. He seems to want to get Republicans voting for him — what kind of strategy is that?”

It was a good question, and one that many people would like to ask Sinema herself these days. People sometimes describe the Arizona senator as a centrist, but that seems the wrong term for someone who’s been working to derail some of the most broadly popular parts of Joe Biden’s agenda, corporate tax increases and reforms to lower prescription drug prices. Instead, she’s just acting as an obstructionist, seeming to bask in the approbation of Republicans who will probably never vote for her.

A “Saturday Night Live” skit this weekend captured her absurdist approach to negotiating the reconciliation bill that contains almost the entirety of Biden’s agenda. “What do I want from this bill?” asked the actress playing Sinema. “I’ll never tell.”

When Sinema ran for Senate, the former left-wing firebrand reportedly told her advisers that she hoped to be the next John McCain, an independent force willing to buck her own party.

But people admired McCain because they felt he embodied a consistent set of values, a straight-talking Captain America kind of patriotism. Despite his iconoclastic image, he was mostly a deeply conservative Republican; as CNN’s Harry Enten points out, on votes where the parties were split, he sided with his party about 90 percent of the time.

Sinema, by contrast, breaks with her fellow Democrats much more often. There hasn’t been a year since she entered Congress, Enten wrote, when she’s voted with her party more than 75 percent of the time. But what really makes her different from McCain is that nobody seems to know what she stands for.

“We need to make health care more affordable, lower prescription drug prices, and fix the problems in the system — not go back to letting insurance companies call all the shots,” she tweeted in 2018. Yet Sinema reportedly objects to the Democrats’ plan to allow the federal government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare recipients and even opposes a scaled-back version of the policy put forward by some House moderates. She voted against the Trump tax cuts in the House but now seems to oppose undoing any of them.

Why? An easy explanation would be money; she could just be protecting her campaign donors. But as Matthew Yglesias points out, in recent cycles small-dollar Democratic donors, who tend to be to the left of Democratic voters overall, have showered the party’s Senate candidates with cash. If Sinema tanks the Biden presidency, it’s unlikely to be great for her fund-raising.

So I think it’s entirely possible that Sinema’s motives are sincere, because she’s come to believe in bipartisanship for its own sake, divorced from any underlying policy goals. . . . In “Unite and Conquer,” Sinema describes entering the Republican-controlled Arizona State House as a strident progressive, accomplishing nothing, being miserable and then recalibrating so that she could collaborate with her Republican colleagues.

“Unite and Conquer” was about operating in the minority, not exercising power. Now that she’s part of a governing majority, Sinema is, ironically, recapitulating some of the pathologies she boasted about transcending. Rather than being part of a productive coalition, she’s once again operating as a defiantly contrary outsider. The bipartisanship that was once a source of liberation for her seems to have become a rigid identity.

I think she has really lost track of what is actually politically prudent, even to put aside the impact on the lives of millions of people,” said Emily Kirkland, executive director of Progress Arizona, a progressive group that worked to elect Sinema to the Senate. There’s a difference, it turns out, between being a maverick and being a narcissist.

Monday, October 04, 2021

Monday Morning Male Beauty


The Supreme Court Has Gone Off the Rails

Many Americans - likely a majority - pay little attention to politics and even less attention to the eulings of the U.S. Supremem Court.  At least until aruling by the Court either expands their rights or, as we are likely to see in the term begining this month, limits their rights and/or grants special rights to favored groups.  This term, the darlings of the "conservative" - right wing is a better descripter - majority now on the Court thanks to Mitch "Moscow Mitch" McConnell and Donald Trump, are abortion rights foes, those who want unlimited gun rights, and those who put personal religious beliefs and "freedom" over the common good.  Even many traditional Republicans - who are now likely former Republicans - are shocked and concerned about what the right wing majority may about to do to long established precedents and legal concepts.  An op-ed in the New York Times by a former Reagan administration attorney is sounding the alarm.  Here are highlights:

The Supreme Court has final authority to make difficult judgment calls articulating the powers of government and the limits and constraints upon them. To merit the public trust, these judgments must not appear simply as assertions of individual value choices by the justices or willy-nilly discard long-established court precedents that profoundly affect people’s lives. Nor should they actively undermine the ability of governments to advance public purposes as established by a fair democratic process.

As the court begins a new term, regrettably, its recent history suggests that it lacks a majority of justices with sufficient concern about the basic continuity and integrity of the law or the ability of government to function.

The evidence has been growing quietly in recent years — and then, last summer, quite loudly, when the court decided to twiddle its thumbs while Texas enacted an abortion law that practically bans nearly all procedures while evading timely judicial review.

This distressing turn of events has a special irony for me personally. In the 1980s, along with three of the current justices (John Roberts, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas), I participated in the Reagan revolution in the law, which inspired and propelled the careers of three other current justices (Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett).

The Reagan revolution pitted itself against “activist” judges who were seen as following personal whims by altering the law and creating rights not found in the Constitution.

That revolution, however, has morphed into what it was meant to curtail, as the expanding right-wing majority on the Supreme Court has relied on an array of innovative constitutional rights to undermine traditional governmental actions while discarding longstanding precedents with which they disagree.

In the highest-profile case of the court’s new term, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, the conservative justices may be ready to repeal the constitutional right to abortion.

At the same time it seems ready to cast aside certain constitutional rights, the court today regularly gives sweeping new interpretations to other rights and invokes them to radically narrow certain government powers that were until quite recently uncontroversial, including, for example, powers related to public safety or our democratic process.

It may be ready to do just that in an upcoming firearms case in which a lower court upheld, in a manner largely consistent with other recent decisions, a New York State law that requires evidence of good cause for a person to obtain a license to carry a gun outside of the home. In the 2008 Heller case, the Supreme Court acknowledged that the Second Amendment right to bear arms does not allow a person to “keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.”

My concerns about what the Supreme Court might do now are fed by its actions in the recent past. Last term was marked by a number of radical departures from precedent and existing law to elevate certain constitutional rights of individuals in a way that can stop government at all levels in its tracks.

Perhaps most unexpected and disturbing were decisions elevating rights of religious assembly over local public-safety rules related to Covid-19 that limited the ability to gather. Yet throughout our history, in matters of public health, the powers of local government have usually been at their apex. That did not matter here — nor did the fact that Chief Justice Roberts was among the dissenters.

Another decision that received less attention but was still shocking involved the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment, which says private property may not be taken for public use without just compensation. The decision struck down a California agriculture labor regulation that gave union organizers the right to come to specific areas of a grower’s property at limited times to speak with workers.

In June, the court also invalidated Philadelphia’s requirement that its foster-care services contractors be willing to certify same-sex couples as foster parents, on the ground that it violated the free exercise of religion rights of a contractor, Catholic Social Services. This result appears to violate a court precedent of over 30 years holding that religious believers, like everyone else, are bound by generally applicable neutral conduct requirements that are not aimed at any religious groups — a sensible principle enunciated for the court by Justice Antonin Scalia in a 1990 case out of Oregon.

The court avoided the outrage that would have followed an outright precedent reversal — but the effect is nearly the same: The idea that personal religious concerns do not excuse compliance with neutral governmental policies appears all but dead.

The court also intervened for the second time to severely undermine the Voting Rights Act when it voted 6-3 to greatly narrow Section 2. That will make legal challenges to new electoral laws in some states far more difficult.

Finally, by a 6-3 vote, the court invalidated California’s requirement that charities in the state disclose certain information about the identity of their major donors. The court called it an unconstitutional burden of the First Amendment free association rights of those donors. But this sweeping invalidation, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissenting opinion makes clear, profoundly departed from many earlier cases that have required such First Amendment claimants to offer evidence that a disclosure would chill association or raise a risk of threats or intimidation. It is also a reversal from the court’s nearly unanimous endorsement just a decade ago of the idea that disclosures of donor identity are critically important to the public interest in transparency.

But they [the rightwing justices] would do well to remember why the Reagan revolution in the law came about in the first place. It was motivated by resistance to judicial meddling, primarily by the Warren court of the 1950s and ’60s, and it rested on the idea that judges are stewards of an existing body of law and not innovators charged with radically remaking it.

Failing to remember that will squander the public trust that is so essential to the court’s historically unquestioned authority to say what the law is. Already this year, Americans’ approval of the court has plummeted.

It will also strengthen the calls for structural changes. Some proposals to overhaul the Supreme Court — like the institution of term limits and a modest expansion of the bench — would arguably be salutary.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Sunday Morning Male Beauty


Some "Conservatives" Are Waiting for Civil War

Sadly, many on the political right of America view the "threat" of equality for all citizens - most disturbingly in their view, those who are non-white, but gays are also included - as an existential threat which may yet have to be met by civil war.  The mindset is akin to that of what my New Orleans belle grandmother referred to as "poor white trash" who needed discriminatory laws against blacks to make them feel better about themselves and gave them a sense of superioity.  The thought of instead taking steps to better themselves seemingly nowhere within the comprehension.  The other aspect pushing a dangerous reaction on the right are Christofascists and evangelicals who (i) are terrified that that they are losing their ability to inflict the religious beliefs on all citizens - the Texas abortion law is an example of perhaps a last gasp effort to do so - and (ii) believe the nation can only prosper under conservative Christian rule. Both groups support minority rule over the majority which unfortunately is aided by the Electoral College and the fact that every state, no matter how small the population, have two U.S. Senators.  The question becomes one of how much longer will the majority tolerate this.  An interview in The Atlantic with the right wing president of the Claremont Institue reveals the far right's dangerous mindset.  Here are excerpts:

“Let me start big. The mission of the Claremont Institute is to save Western civilization,” says Ryan Williams, the organization’s president, looking at the camera, in a crisp navy suit. “We’ve always aimed high.” A trumpet blares. America’s founding documents flash across the screen. Welcome to the intellectual home of America’s Trumpist right.

As Donald Trump rose to power, the Claremont universe—which sponsors fellowships and publications, including the Claremont Review of Books and The American Mindrose with him, publishing essays that seemed to capture why the president appealed to so many Americans and attempting to map a political philosophy onto his presidency. Williams and his cohort are on a mission to tear down and remake the right; they believe that America has been riven into two fundamentally different countries, not least because of the rise of secularism. “The Founders were pretty unanimous, with Washington leading the way, that the Constitution is really only fit for a Christian people,” Williams told me. It’s possible that violence lies ahead.

“The ideal endgame would be to effect a realignment of our politics and take control of all three branches of government for a generation or two,” Williams said. Trump has left office, at least for now, but those he inspired are determined to recapture power in American politics. My conversation with Williams has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

Emma Green: What do you see as the threats to Western civilization?

Ryan Williams: The one we have focused on at the Claremont Institute is the progressive movement. [Progressives think that] limited government, in the Founders’ sense—checks and balances, robust federalism, a fairly fixed view of human nature and the rights attendant to it—all has to give way to a notion that rights evolve with the times. . . . I would say the leading edge of progressivism now is this kind of woke, social-justice anti-racism. . . . . The pursuit of equal results is only going to be successful in a new woke totalitarianism.

America is an idea, but it’s not just that. It’s the people who settled it, founded it, and made it flourish.

Green: Just to ask the question directly, do you mean white people?

Williams: No, not necessarily. I mean, Western civilization happens to be where a lot of white people are, historically, but I don’t think there’s any necessary connection between the two. The ability to believe in natural rights and a regime of limited government the way the Founders did is not reserved only to white people.

Green: So you believe that there are American citizens of other backgrounds who belong in Western civilization—not just white people. . . . . People of European descent.

Williams: Okay, fair enough. No, it’s not an exclusive inheritance of that. . . . what we think are the real threats: identity politics; this ideology of anti-racism and wokeness, which you said we’ll get to; the notion that borders are anachronistic and even racist, and that citizenship is global rather than national . . . .

Green: Let’s talk about identity politics and being “woke.” People throw those terms around a lot, and they can obscure more than they illuminate. What do you actually mean when you say you stand against them?

Williams: There are a few strands. The most ascendant one right now seems to be critical theory, which was born in France in the ’60s and migrated to American universities. It has birthed all of these academic centers—gender studies, anti-colonialism, African American studies. . . . . Now this seems to mean that we’re really not going to be where we need to be until all groups are equally represented and have the same outcomes for, say, home ownership, wealth, the proportion of CEOs, or members of Congress. That seems to be the goal of wokeism.

Green: . . . . Do you have an alternative vision of what racial justice or equality—or whatever term you would use—should look like in 2021? How should we address continuing, legally sanctioned discrimination, assuming you think such a thing exists?

Williams: A true regime of nondiscrimination is when the state cannot disadvantage or advantage any group based on their skin color or ethnicity. That’s the original promise of the Declaration of Independence. It is, in many ways, a color-blind Constitution.

The counter from the left is that there’s systemic racism that has built up over years by certain legal systems. I would have to see some real proof of that. The main evidence seems to be that there are disparate results, thus there’s systemic racism.

Green: Let’s take one concrete policy example. The prison system in the United States disproportionately incarcerates Black men. Reasons for this include laws around sentencing, such as three-strike rules, or the possession of certain drugs being punished more harshly than others.

Williams: It would depend on what is driving the disparate results. We would have to separate out the extent to which sentencing is truly discriminatory . . . . —and the extent to which the high incarceration rate of Black Americans is due to their much higher propensity to commit violent crime. . . . We have to start, though, with the acknowledgment that a lot more Blacks are in prison because they commit violent crimes at a much higher rate [than Americans of other races].

Green: This picture you’re painting of unity around a certain set of ideas, principles, and beliefs about the nature of man and God doesn’t feel accurate to the founding conditions of the United States. America was founded as a place where people who had really out-there ideas could come and live peaceably in geographic proximity to one another, eventually governed under a shared constitution. Lots of religious radicals were involved. America was founded on the principle that people needed to tolerate one another, but no more.

Williams: Well, most of the Founders of America were Christians. There were radicals, to be sure. But there was much more consensus back then on what human nature is—on monotheism, broadly speaking, but really Christianity as well. Of course, Maryland was a bunch of Catholics who wanted their own place. . . . . There was a moral consensus, even if they lived up to it imperfectly, embodied in our constitutional culture. We’ve lost that. If we disagree that human biology is a good guide to male- and femaleness, we’re a long way from the consensus of the founding.

Green: Do you think America can hang together in 2021 without Christianity at its core?

Williams: I’m ambivalent about that question. I think it would be bad for America if that longtime Christian core disintegrated. The Founders were pretty unanimous, with Washington leading the way, that the Constitution is really only fit for a Christian people.

Williams: The ideal endgame would be to effect a realignment of our politics and take control of all three branches of government for a generation or two. The goal would not be the reconquest of blue America but rather the restoration of the constitutional regime that we think has been lost.

Green: Republicans have not won the popular vote in a presidential election in several decades. Do you worry about a project of minority rule—trying to assert your vision upon a country where many, many people do not agree with even your basic premises about what the American republic should look like?

Williams: I reject the premise that just because the popular vote isn’t won, you don’t possess a constitutional majority. We have an Electoral College system for a reason.

Green: Do you feel like there is a hopeful future for America, or do you think we are headed toward some sort of generationally defining conflict that could potentially be violent?

Williams: I worry about such a conflict. The Civil War was terrible. It should be the thing we try to avoid almost at all costs.