What They Said

Smart commentary and analysis by writers much smarter and more thoughtful than yours truly…

Refusing to wear a mask has become a badge of political identity, a barefaced declaration that you reject liberal values like civic responsibility and belief in science. (Those didn’t used to be liberal values, but that’s what they are in America 2021.)

Unfortunately, identity politics can do a lot of harm when it gets in the way of dealing with real problems. I don’t know how many people will die unnecessarily because the governor of Texas has decided that ignoring the science and ending the mask requirement is a good way to own the libs. But the number won’t be zero.

Unmasked: When Identity Politics Turns Deadly Paul Krugman New York Times

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The Pew Research Center found that the number of nones in the population as a whole increased nine percentage points from 2009 to 2019. The main reasons that nones are unaffiliated are that they question religious teachings, or they don’t like the church’s stance on social issues.

There is a chasm between the vast scope of our needs and what influencers can possibly provide. We’re looking for guidance in the wrong places. Instead of helping us to engage with our most important questions, our screens might be distracting us from them. Maybe we actually need to go to something like church?

Contrary to what you might have seen on Instagram, our purpose is not to optimize our one wild and precious life. It’s time to search for meaning beyond the electric church that keeps us addicted to our phones and alienated from our closest kin.

Influencers Are the New Televangelists Leigh Stein New York Times

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Evangelicalism in America, however, has come to be defined by its anti-intellectualism. The style of the most popular and influential pastors tend to correlate with shallowness: charisma trumps expertise; scientific authority is often viewed with suspicion. So it is of little surprise that American evangelicals have become vulnerable to demagoguery and misinformation….. In 1994, Mark Noll, a historian who was then a professor at Wheaton College in Illinois, the preëminent evangelical liberal-arts institution, published “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.” In the opening sentence of the book’s first chapter, he writes, “The scandal of the evangelical mind is there is not much of an evangelical mind.”

Recently, some pastors and other evangelical leaders have begun to express alarm at how unmoored some members of their congregations have become. More leaders in the American church need to recognize the emergency, but, in order for evangelicals to rescue the life of the mind in their midst, they need to acknowledge that the church is missing a vital aspect of worshipping God: understanding the world He made.

The Wasting of the Evangelical Mind The New Yorker · by Michael Luo · March 4, 2021

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The Republican Party has become, in form if not in content, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union of the late 1970s.

I can already hear the howls about invidious comparisons. I do not mean that modern American Republicans are communists. Rather, I mean that the Republicans have entered their own kind of end-stage Bolshevism, as members of a party that is now exhausted by its failures, cynical about its own ideology, authoritarian by reflex, controlled as a personality cult by a failing old man, and looking for new adventures to rejuvenate its fortunes.

A GOP that once prided itself on its intellectual debates is now ruled by the turgid formulations of what the Soviets would have called their “leading cadres,” including ideological watchdogs such as Tucker Carlson and Mark Levin. Like their Soviet predecessors, a host of dull and dogmatic cable outlets, screechy radio talkers, and poorly written magazines crank out the same kind of fill-in-the-blanks screeds full of delusional accusations, replacing “NATO” and “revanchism” with “antifa” and “radicalism.”

The Republican Party is, for now, more of a danger to the United States than to the world. But like the last Soviet-era holdouts in the Kremlin, its cadres are growing more aggressive and paranoid. They blame spies and provocateurs for the Capitol riot, and they are obsessed with last summer’s protests (indeed, they are fixated on all criminals and rioters other than their own) to a point that now echoes the old Soviet lingo about “antisocial elements” and “hooligans.” They blame their failures at the ballot box not on their own shortcomings, but on fraud and sabotage as the justification for a redoubled crackdown on democracy.

The Republican Party Is Now in Its End Stages The Atlantic · by Tom Nichols · February 25, 2021

Last Thoughts for 2020

2020 has been extended for another six month at least! More Covid deaths, more lost jobs, more families unable to pay their rent, more people hungry etc. If only life could be handled by TV remote, we would be pushing fast forward to arrive at better and safer times.

Sending $600 to Americans for covid relief has about the same benefits as throwing under inflated life preservers to drowning people thrown overboard in raging seas.

If we distributed needed supplies, weapons and armaments to our military in World War II as expeditiously as we currently are distributing the Covid 19 vaccines to our citizens, we all would be speaking German and purchasing groceries in yen.

What if Joe Biden expressed “buyer’s remorse” about entering the White House? He could complain that he was unable to do the proper due diligence and inspection as Trump officials refused to provide him necessary information and background.

Everyone should have a dream of making someone else’s dreams come true.

Masks have become fashion, medical, cultural and political statements. While they hide the nose and mouth of those who wear them they also expose the character and judgement of those who refuse to wear them. 

Definition of Misnomer- a misapplied or inappropriate name or designation. e.g. United States of America????

Why is it that content (podcasts, movies, music, websites, news shows, social media) is sandwiched between and among so much marketing and advertising? 

Facebook Posts 2020

I write a variety of posts on Facebook including my observations on politics, current events, sports, business and life. Shown below are some recent posts. Many of my Facebook posts are written from emotion rather than reason. My comments are in italics.

Responding to  my friend Mike’s claim about the qualifications of Amy Comey Barrett for the Supreme Court…

Oh she is qualified, if you want to get rid of Obamacare. Oh she is qualified, if you want to get rid of Roe v. Wade. Oh she is qualified, If you want a judge who will protect corporations against the interest of consumers and smaller businesses. Mike, I’m not sure what papers you read or what your sources of information are. Trump about a week ago wanted to table any aid for consumers or businesses related to coronavirus until after the election. What changed his mind? The stock market!! By the way, Mike, can you tell me what Trump’s plan is to replace Obamacare? If you can, you are the only person in the United States who can. (10-13-20)

My comments about Mrs. Barrett’s nomination in general…

I guess the kindest thing that I can say about this hearing is to agree with Senator Klobuchar that it is a “sham.” We are conducting this hearing in the middle of an election that Trump will probably lose and in the middle of an epidemic where over 200,000 people have died and maybe another hundred thousand more will die before the end of 2020. When our priorities should be about helping businesses and individuals cope with the effects of this pandemic, we are witnessing the jamming of an unqualified nominee for purely political and ideological purposes. I laugh when I hear that this is an effort for pro life. Republicans don’t give a damn about the incredible mess that they have made of this country. Just watched Senator McConnell yesterday laughing in derision when his opponent in a debate cited all the deaths involved in the coronavirus. I am deeply ashamed of this country….(10-13-20)

My observations about Harris-Pence VP Debate

I think Kamala did a great job  but regrettably it will not change any votes.  Four years ago, I saw another woman basically clean the floor with her male opponent at three debates. (10-7-20

My observations about the over the top Trump-Biden debate:

I can’t watch this debate anymore! This is a joke. Biden should walk off the stage and let Trump talk to himself. (9-29-20)

An observation about the utility of meetings from my corporate life.

I’ve been retired for a few years from corporate life but I do not miss meetings. 95% of them were a waste of my time and unproductive. (8-21-20)

Ruminations as I walked during the first few weeks of the pandemic.

In lieu of pickleball, I now take long walks from my home into Merchantville. It is a very quiet journey. I pass very few cars and very few people. Playgrounds are empty. No kids playing in the streets. Sporadically, I will pass another walker or a jogger. Except for the pharmacies, there is no commerce in Merchantville. Streets in the business district are empty. Parking meters stand lonely. I wonder and worry how many of the small businesses like those in Merchantville will survive if they are unable to open within the next few months. (3-24-20)

Entertainment advice at the beginning of quarantine…

For all of us who may soon be quarantined, I recommend watching the original and reprise versions of The Thomas Crown Affair. Both movie versions are excellent.  I prefer the Steve McQueen – Faye Dunaway version based on this one scene. (Steve and Faye’s characters playing “seductive” chess)  Never realized that playing chess could be so seductive… (3-8-20)