Conversations with Charlie (11/24/2021)

Conversation 16:

Charlie’s Wednesday’s podcast had him talking with Kristin Du Mez, author of the book Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation (Nov. 24, 2021).

There is SO much going on here that speaks to things I myself have wondered about that this will be something to try and unpack from the conversation as best I can. That being said, I am SUPER eager to read this book.

My interest comes from THREE major but interconnected angles:

1. Element of masculinity, as it relates to Trump, was almost an element in my forthcoming book in contrasting Superman and Trump that fell by the wayside during the editing process to date. It was something that caught my attention due to reporting during the pandemic where people tried to, and Trump did it himself apparently, compare Trump to Superman.

2. This concept of masculinity, as a man, has always fascinated me when it comes to perceptions of it as being static or ONE THING rather than changeable and a plurality as I have seen it. This is something that comes up in the discussion.

3. I was raised well and as part of a mainline Christian community as part of the First Presbyterian Church of Natchitoches, LA. Organized religion is not my thing now, but I hold a lot of debt and respect for the church I grew up in and the values I learned. When I look at Evangelical Christians who embrace Donald Trump, I completely have FAILED to comprehend how that happened. This is something Kristin has sought to answer and it is discussed but it is really an element that draws me to read her book.

The book was originally released last summer during the height of the BLM movement in the wake of the George Floyd murders, interestingly, despite the time since its release, the subject matter of it has continued to be relevant as the trajectory of Evangelical, but particularly white Evangelical Christianity has become consumed with a new conception of masculinity.

Charlie interjects that he is aware of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, but was not aware that there was a gospel of Testosterone too.

There is something going on, and has been for years now, inside White dominant Evangelical Christian Churches. Elements that were once fringe have leaked into and taken a dominant place in the mainstream of Evangelical Christianity. The line that used to separate the fringe of prosperity gospel and other elements with the mainstream has blurred.

This blurring has made mainstream leaders like Russell Moore and David French, and Wheaton College, who see themselves as the leaders of evangelical Christianity, miss the fact that they are not in charge of mainline evangelical Christianity anymore, or as much as they thought they were. 

Instead, it is the whole wide world of televangelists and those who are hangers on who preach a form of Christianity that has little to no basis in the gospels outside of cherry-picked quotations, are preaching extreme and crazy ideas that run a veritable grift on the parishioners who follow them. Worst of all, they are becoming more and more in charge of the direction of mainline evangelical Christianity.

The tools of their trade are to lean into charismatic leadership, prophesies, and end times discussions.

The problem has grown and spread out into many churches to one degree or another that is no longer easy to pinpoint where the center point of the Evangelical Christian Church is anymore.

Another disturbing trend is that many of the fringe evangelicals who often don’t show up on the mainstream radar unless they get caught or taped doing something or saying something kind of crazy, actually have in conservative circles a large following in power.

This is where they circle back to a specific discussion about the books examination of masculinity in evangelical Christianity. This is still pertinent since Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri is even now crusading for a needed rejuvenation of masculinity. He gave an interview to Axios where he claimed that the blame existed with the Left. He claimed that Left was specifically attacking America by attacking the masculinity of men. Hawley indicated that because the Left was attacking systemic systems, the attack on men was a systemic attack that held ALL men as the issues that oppress. This is a terrible generalization on the part of Hawley, though much of this is his own political maneuvering BS. It is just yet another long line tugging away to gin up fear in people.

Apparently, it is somehow the Left and Liberals who are behind the fact that too many men no longer work, or play to many video games, or watch too much porn. The consequence, as Hawley sees it, is that it is destroying the fabric of America by destroying the gender norms he associates as “correct.”

He is not alone in this, Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, uses similar appeals to hype up his conception of what masculinity was, is, and should be. Play clip of him claiming testosterone levels are at historical lows and that mothers need to “raise [their] child to be a monster.”

These people seem to believe in the concept of “de-maculating” and these are the same people who propping up Kyle Rittenhouse as a hero. 

White evangelical Christianity is pushing back against this idea, feeling that the language and culture of America is threatening to emasculate men. They lash out, specifically blaming feminists and liberals, who they have been battling against going back to the 1960s and 70s.

The real question is this: 

What is masculinity? How do they define it?

They harken back to a supposed long-standing conception of masculinity, a very specific kind of masculinity too. They usually generalize masculinity, without specifics because they assume their audience already pictures what they picture as masculinity in their mind. That somehow it is unchanging and only one specific version.

This specific version of masculinity is aggressive, testosterone driven, rugged, and willing to use violence in a protector role. 

The version of masculinity they imagine emerged in the culture wars with the enemy being those on the Left. When the United States started losing its external enemies in the 70s, 80s, and 90s this conception rounded on perceived enemies from within, i.e. the liberals and the feminist, who were viewed as attacking what white Evangelicals perceived made America great: that rugged individualistic Man’s Man.

This has led to attacks on not just outsiders but those perceived enemies perceived as within Christianity itself. There are those Christian denominations or Churches that hold more liberal or open-minded ideas. Basically, they would see the Presbyterian Church I grew up in then and today as their enemy. 

What exactly is this brand of Christianity then?

What are these people thinking when they’re wearing a bracelet that says What Would Jesus Do? 

The answer, apparently it would be to punch back at those who attack them, to smash them in the face.

Apparently, it is not about accepting what Jesus said, that the meek will inherit the Earth. Now it is about raising your children to be monsters, to be masculine hyper-men who will fight back, use violence. It is the rise of a militant white masculinity.

Traditional Christianity centered itself in a way that was meant to get away from that kind of semi-natural kind of cultural inclination in human beings. Now, Evangelicals are reconciling the cognitive dissonance of what Jesus says you should do and what your lizard brain/caveman instincts push you to do instead by redefining Christianity to match that more violent impulse instinct. 

This is LITERALLY the opposite of Christian values, of Biblical Christian values.

These people are rejecting or trying to refashion Jesus to fit their mold. There are White Evangelical authors who have been doing this for decades, trying to retcon the story of Jesus to better fit the new emerging militant Christian ideology. There is an entire industry of these authors who Kristin noted she became aware of in 2000-2001. They are particularly obsessed with conceptions of Christian manhood and masculinity.

This industry casts God as more in the mold of the Old Testament, a warrior and violent God and men are made in his image to be his soldiers. Every fight is a binary one, between good and evil, and there is always a battle to fight and a beauty to rescue – very wonderfully chauvinistic.

These people were enthusiastic supporters of the war in Iraq and the idea of preemptive warfare as a doctrine. They were supporters and defenders of the CIA torture program.

Jesus for them is not the Jesus of the Gospels but the one from the Book of Revelation, a Jesus who is more militant. They explicitly reject the teachings like “love thy neighbor” or “turn the other cheek.” Their Jesus is more in the mold of Mel Gibbon’s conception of William Wallace in Braveheart rather than the actual Jesus of the New Testament. In fact, they explicitly reject that Jesus. He is not the Jesus they need. Many of them live in a perceived “constant state of war” that aims to protect Christianity.

The traditional Jesus of the New Testament is great for the Christian women, but not for the men, doesn’t match up.

Revelation Jesus, warrior Jesus, matches not only the militant evangelical Christian outlook on masculinity but also the apocalyptic vision of the end times held closely by these Christians. Strange historical sidenote, Christianity was originally viewed in the Roman Empire as an apocalyptic cult offshoot of Judaism.

This is not new. Christianity throughout much of its history, through the Middle Ages, promoted and believed they lived in the “end times.” Today, those “end times” is the end of White Christian America. Makes me think about the book I read back in 2016 titled The End of White Christian America by Robert Jones. Good book, worth reading. Those “end times” is based in the fear of emerging demographic changes across the United State.

Another fear is the fact that America has been becoming less Christian since the 1960s. Why address the cause of the issue (which might be them), better to just rage against the symptom.

This has been a trend for over 20 years now, and if more people, Charlie puts himself inside that category, had been paying attention, they wouldn’t have been so shocked by the Christian evangelical embrace of Donald Trump in 2016. 


Because he fits, at least on a perceptional level, what they have made out of Jesus as a golden idol.

Kristin points out that this something she saw coming because it has been there for decades in the language and rhetoric of those Christian authors who push new Christian manhood. For them, Donald Trump makes perfect sense, it is not a contradiction according to their new Jesus.

Trump is their protector. He is their ultimate fighting champion who will promise to make them great again. That is all they want and need. All the things that disqualified Trump within traditional Christianity and Christian values are what made him the perfect vessel for White Evangelical Christians.

Here is where it all starts to make more sense.

The traditional Christian values of joy, love, nurturing, etc. have been redefined as strictly feminine values for White Evangelical Christians. They’re fine for the women but not so much for the man.


Well, God gave men testosterone specifically for them to channel aggressive behavior into protecting their own. Those traditional Christian values won’t work.

This is where John Wayne come into this.

John Wayne’s on-screen persona made the perfect model.

In the 1960s and 70s he came to embody conservative white male notions of manhood. This was in opposition to the hippies and the counterculture. He was the “good white guy with a gun,” the mythical role model America really needed according to White Evangelical Christians. His characters brought order through violence, normally to people who were not white, which is very telling of the ideology.

There is a lot of secular icons who have become the models for this Christian ideology. Evangelicals did not support Trump despite their beliefs but because of them, and they didn’t need to set aside their beliefs to vote for him, they were prepped.

This preparation is how Donald Trump weathered The Access Hollywood tape that should have ended his campaign. 

When the evangelical leaders and community stood by Trump after the tape it made it crystal clear what was really going on and where their true allegiance was, it wasn’t the Jesus of the New Testament, it was his new securely model Jesus who was willing to use violence and to be an imperfect person.

For White Evangelical Christians, the internal enemies have progressed, starting with the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, Feminists in the 1970s, Gay Rights in the 1980s. In the early 2000s, it was against “Radical” Islam. Along the way, the perception grew that Liberals were embodying, allying with these groups, and bringing about a decline in America’s masculinity.

Trump, himself, really leaned into this perception.

The cognitive dissonance emerges in that support of Trump, who is supposed fight the unmanly, wimpy liberals, who are also somehow at the same time an existential threat to Christian America. Also, the champion here, Trump, is himself a make-up wearing, fake tan, spoiled rich boy from Queens and not a rugged “man’s man.”

The threat of the liberals is that they poison the minds of men, which is where we circle back to the Josh Hawley’s comments on the interview with Axios. It is a threat to the White Evangelical Christian Conservative patriarchal conception of men as the head of a household, which has a direct correlation to the man’s ability to lead the family, be a leader in his professional and Church life, and if this is threatened, it is an attempt to undermine the fabric of the entire nation. This is, to them, what liberals are truly subverting.

Outside of this Christian bubble, the conception of masculinity has been one under debate for some time, both its nature and definition. I end up thinking about the outrage that bubbled up over the Gillette ads that came out in 2019 that took a modern and broad approach at what it meant to “be a man.” I, personally, liked it because it represented values I was raised with. People questioned its take and the preachiness of a company, but I liked that they said something.

What is being challenged is the ideas that blowing off the actions of mainly men, excusing actions with cliches of “boy being boys” has become, especially since 2018, a cultural offense that is being attacked in the wake of movements like #MeToo.

The shift in change has created a counter-backlash from White Evangelical Christians, a group who has normally for decades, even centuries, enjoyed a privileged position in the hierarchy of American culture and politics. This goes hand-in-hand with their ideals of masculinity, which they perceive is also under threat. 

For me, this goes back to The End of white Christian America in my own personal feelings that if one feesl that something is under threat you tend to overreact in response. Take, for example, the introduction of “Under God” into the Pledge of Allegiance and “In God We Trust” becoming the motto that appeared on United States money in place of the old motto “e pluribus unum” (from many come one). These moves occurred in the 1950s when America saw itself in both opposition to “godless” Communism and the beginning of a decline in religious observance. These overt actions aimed to reinforce the United State’s Christian Bonafede’s. Personally, it  strikes me as acting from a position of weakness not a strength. To make those moves is tantamount to an admission of decline that has precipitated a reaction to try and “stanch” the bleeding.

The White Evangelical Christian conception being put forth is that masculinity is somehow consistent and timeless, but that is not true. That’s their big lie.

There have always been different iterations of masculinity. In fact, it used to be considered a right of manhood that you taught your son the difference between being a man and being a bully but in the current Republican party and in the current state of evangelical manhood, it seems like there’s no difference anymore.

We are living in a difficult time to raise boys because look at who we are being given as role models.

What kind of values are being offered even now from the Evangelical Christian Church?

Instead of teaching you to be a good sport or be sensitive to others, let’s teach you to be a monster instead appears to be the appeal.

What we are facing right now is a crisis of people who have become insulated to bad models, who are acting like monsters online, but are now leaving that online world and into the real world.

The shift in changing demographics has led to these people who are in White Christian conservative circles being afraid of losing power and it’s actually causing many of them to turn away from democracy itself as a consequence.

60% of white evangelicals think the 2020 election stolen. 39% of them think violence may be necessary to save country according to recent polls. This all leads back to groups who are trying to turn Kyle Rittenhouse into a new model of conduct, a new symbol of Christian manhood. 

We should worry about this, we should also be trying to do something, to push back as well.

All for now.

J C Evans


The Bulwark Podcast: “Kristin Du Mez: Love Thy Neighbor Is for Wimps”


Conversations with Charlie (11/23/2021)

Conversation 15:

Charlie’s Tuesday’s podcast had him talking with Donald Cohen, Charlie’s own cousin, executive director of the In The Public Interest (ITPI), writer and contributor at Writer and Main, and co-author of a new book The Privatization of Everything: How the Plunder of Public Goods Transformed America and How We Can Fight Back, (Nov. 23, 2021).

Charlie and Donald’s conversation begins with a recounting of the connection they share as cousins who have spent most of their adult lives on opposite ends of the political spectrum, even estranged. However, in 2016 they came back together and reconnected. Love cousin-talk here, really beautiful.

After they reconnected, Donald and Charlie sought to find where on the Venn Diagram they could find that they agreed. Where were the things they agreed on vs. disagreed on? Found out that they had a LOT more agreement exists than initially believed but they only found it by seeking it out.

I’d like to point out just how important that step here that Charlie and Donald too was. It is something we should all be doing, taking the actual time to figure out where were agree vs. disagree because I think most Americans have more common ground than we allow ourselves (and others allow us to think about) to believe.

Charlie pinpoints that sometime after 2010 the polarization in politics reached an acceleration towards the political extremes made him feel uncertain about political beliefs he had held up till that point. Something about the dogmatic extremes emerging gave Charlie doubt, and as Peter Abelard observed in the 12th century C.E., “by doubting we are led to question, by questioning we arrive at truth.”

Then came the revelation, one I personally appreciate and want to embrace more myself, is that conversations and debates, particularly with those in disagreement, became less about scoring points in order to win but to just have a conversation, to learn from each other, and find common ground.

General Round-Up and Discussion

This, strangely, takes Charlie and Donald to topic of former New Jersey governor and current “savior” of the Republican party, Chris Christie.

Charlie notes his appearance on Fox News. Sure enough, he’s sliding back in the Trump world

Goes on Laura Ingraham and makes the claim that he would never NOT support Donald Trump if he was denominator on the ticket. He even says, “The line for supporting Donald Trump starts behind me,” so nothing has changed, he is still a sycophant.

Getting to something more substantive, in the aftermath of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, Charlie believes that there is room in one’s mind to keep TWO ideas at the same time. You can, A, believe and agree with the decision of Rittenhouse’s acquittal, while also, B, believing that what he did was ridiculously stupid.

I do not personally agree with the Rittenhouse acquittal but I do agree that one can hold TWO ideas in one’s mind at the same time. It does not have to come down to some simple black and white, either/or, binary conception. The world is complex.

As it regards to that notion of what Rittenhouse did being stupid, which is the point on the Venn Diagram where I could meet someone who agreed with his acquittal, there is very likely to add to the mix an agreement about the seeming glorification of Rittenhouse as some form of hero. It’s kind of like a symbolic obscenity.

I have said my peace on Rittenhouse and the trial in general, outside of willingness to debate about it more I am done in terms of making opinioned pronouncements.

However, with regards to discussions of models, I am more than willing to keep talking.

There are too many avatars of violence being promoted in our society today. There are elements of the media who appear willing to vilify Rittenhouse and there are other elements, mainly on the right, who appear just as willing make him a role models for others to emulate. He is being held up as a model for how others his age and older should act, not how he acts now in particular, but what he did in Kenosha that eventually got him put on trial: bringing a gun to a protest/riot, using it, and then claiming self-defense if it is used to wound or kill someone.

Interestingly, during Rittenhouse’s current publicity tour he was on Tucker Carlson, who apparently has been working with him on a documentary about his trial, where during a back and forth slammed a former attorney of his named Lin Wood. This guy is a character unto himself, but he is prominently identified with the conspiracy QAnon and Stop-the-Steal rallies after the 2020 Election.

Rittenhouse goes after Wood for raising money to get him out on bail but actually pushing to keep the money and convince Rittenhouse to stay in prison. He seems to understand something that appears very common in the far-right realms of conspiracy and Trumpworld affiliation: grifting. You know, the practice of making money off someone else, to swindle another.

Charlie to Kyle Rittenhouse: “Welcome to the grift.”

Donald Cohen’s book: The Privatization of Everything: How the Plunder of Public Goods Transformed America and How We Can Fight Back

It boils down to a dispute over the privatization of public services and where the issues that exist in those decision.Donald is a firm believer that democratic societies need a strong public sector and this leads him to a strong dislike for over privatization. 


What is wrong with privatizing certain sources that some might argue could be done better privately than publicly?

Is the private sector less trustworthy than the public?

Donald responds that he does not feel that private organizations are less trustworthy than public, it’s a more nuanced answer than a simple yes or no. He notes that his book is not an anti-business read. His issues can be boiled down to the way contracts are created between cities and private organizations from the turnover services. 

The objection is turning over public services and public decision-making to a private organization without full consideration of short and long-term impacts, especially with some contracts being signed for decade plus terms.


In 2009–10, Chicago announced a deal where they received $1.1 billion upfront to turn over control of parking meters to a private consortium for a term of 75 years. This was a dumb investment. After the decision was made the reality was that despite the large sum of money city received they actually got hosed in the long-term by giving away future decision-making input over employment, pay of works, and control of street parking all for ready cash and a short-term solution to a financial crunch.

To elaborate, Donald points out that if the city ever wanted to make modifications or get rid of certain parking meters spots for a bus lane, or to close office section, or to put a bike lane, they have to buy it back in order to make those modifactiona. They have lost control of that function. Future urban planning, transit, etc. are now constrained by that contract. 

What about efficiency? 

It is often considered that private industry is more efficient.

It’s not that public institutions or services like the DMV, and he references California because he lives in LA, cannot be made more efficient because they can. California is a case in point where a public instituation can be and has been made more efficient.

The efficiency of the private industry is a bit of a myth because it’s not as true as people believe it to be. Often times after private organization signs a contracts there can be something new that comes up and they’ll come back and ask for more money from the public government. It can end up being a bit like extortion.

Efficiency is essentially doing more and spending less. How is this possible if upper management compensation in certain private organizations is massive or drive is to pay out shareholder divadends? 

There is of course government waste too, especially in the military, there can be featherbedding of costs. Privatization is often still held up as a way to get away from this and supposed public cost. The reality is that it is a fallacy to assume that all public services are less efficient and private services are efficient. It is not that binary.

Donald says it’s not just government or private thing, it’s about competence. There are still people who make the argument that: “Government should be run like a business.” No, it should be run at its most efficient. Public service providers need to know what you are doing when they contract with private organizations. Contracting is difficult, the public sector needs skilled people to look at the whole issue before signing it. Governments need more people to monitor contracts. It’s not an either/or but a need to do things well.

This moves to further examples:

Negative- Private Prisons 

Donald notes that this is a strong area where his critique really hits the pavement. Efficiency in private prisons tends to result in high turnover, lower pay, and corruption. It becomes something that should not be privately contracted at all. There are two big companies in this market. When they do financial disclosures each year they note the risks in their investment. One of the listed “risks” is “reduced crime” or things like the “legalization of weed.” They are “risks” because they are not good for the company’s bottom line. They have deals with bed rates that leads states to actually pay these companies to keep more people in jail. These companies pay big time to influence policies and keep the flow of criminals coming to them to maintain profit.

Positive- Garbage Collection

Government sanitation works are now privatized organizations in many places. Feels like a positive example of privatization that has brought down costs and not affected efficiency through the contracting. 

When you contract for things, you have to do it right. There needs to be a clear picture of the motivations of the private sector contractor to not simply gut things in search of profit.

There are people motivated by service as much as any kind of profit motive. People do have legitimate fears about concentrating power in the hands of government. The real need is to not simply swing the pendulum one way or the other, but realize that all power, public or private, needs oversight. Public sector is more responsible to public pressures and can be better tempered by good oversight while contracting with efficient and responsible private partners to eliminate waste where it exists in the public sector.

All for now.

J C Evans


The Bulwark Podcast: “Donald Cohen: The Privatization of Everything”

Conversation with Charlie (11/22/2021)

Conversation 14:

Charlie’s Monday’s podcast had him talking with Bill Kristol, fellow Bulwark founder and contributor (Nov. 22, 2021).

They talk about the tragedy that occurred in Waukesha, Wisconsin this past weekend when someone drove their SUV into a Christmas parade, killing 5 and leaving 48 injured based on recent reporting. Rather than jumping on the issue and speculation, Charlie notes that we should hold off, wait for more information, before discussing the matter. This is good hygiene for pundits in media. It may not be flashy or feed the instant gratification many in modern media consumers expect, but it is much healthier for all of us. It is a tragedy, but not enough is yet known to begin to more deeply probe it.

As for probing discussions, Charlie and Bill are speaking on November 22, 2021, which marks the 58th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, TX.

Charlie notes that for all the events in American history that permanently appear to stand out and become touchstones in American life, it is Dec. 7 (1941 Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor that got us into WWII), Nov. 22 (1963 JFK assassination), and September 11 (2001 terrorist attacks on World Trade Centers and Pentagon) that really seem to stick with us.

This tangent leads Charlie and Bill to discussions of that great game we all play, whether with history national or personal, of “what if?”

How would things have been different is Kennedy had lived? What might have been different?

Interestingly, seeing as how both Charlie and Bill lived through it, just how dangerous the 1960s in America felt compared to life today.

This is one of those things that history has kind of not quite painted over as much as obscured a bit as society has distanced itself. The effects are not omnipresent, but the trauma of much of the 1960s still influences America today. 

Not only did the 60s see the assassination of President Kennedy, but also Civil Rights leaders such as Malcolm X (1965) and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1968), Kennedy’s brother Bobby Kennedy while he was running for president in 1968 too. Not to mention race riots in Detroit, Newark, and Watts. There was a lot of violence, all while America itself was escalating and then becoming entrenched in a quagmire of a war in Vietnam.

Bill puts out the idea that “at least we made it through” but that living through those times it was not always as certain. The same situation to a degree is going on now. Things feel like they are getting bad, and we want to believe it will work out and we will get through it, but that’s not always a guarantee. People have to act to make it happen.

One salient point is the hypothesis Charlie and Bill discuss about the ways that our modern society does not appreciate how dangerous the 60s were, as well as given the sense of subsequent generations after may not appreciate how lucky America was to make it out. The feelings of our better times since the 1960s have made us complacent to dangers.

As Charlie points out that there were some things that broke in the 60s that never got fixed, and as I would phrase it now, there are some traumas still haunting America now, weighing us down and undermining our potential.

JFK’s assassination was a shattering point, a pivot point in history, what Hamlet in Shakespeare, though referring to death, called “the undiscovered country,” into which we have journeyed. There is no return though. Something was lost, some youthfulness or hopefulness that can never be gotten back.

Charlie reads a flyer, handed out by some hardline conservative elements who were on the fringe, printed on November 22, 1963, the day of Kennedy’s assassination. The language of the flyer is unhinged in its conspiratorial bombastic and wild accusations against Kennedy and the Democrats. The sad thing is that listening to it being read, and Charlie and Bill agree, it sounds a lot like something former President Donald Trump would Tweet today.

The fringe and crazy has come to the mainstream of our political discourse.

In that fringe language is the promise of violence.

America is nation obsessed with its guns and a gun culture, add to that a lack of political leadership and lessening of personal responsibility via excuses and loopholes, and the mixture is a waiting powder keg.

Where America is now, in the aftermath of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, elements in the far right are becoming emboldened and toying more and more with their idealization of violence and a fetishization of vigilantism that Rittenhouse is seen by them to model.

Charlie’s analysis is that the situation has reversed some since the 1960s. Now it is the far right that is actively toying with ideas of violence and fetishizing violence. They want to play dress up in camo and military fatigues, strap on their assault rifle and parade in public spaces. Why? Because they can. It is all performative. To Charlie, who mentions he has long been a supporter of the 2nd Amendment and gun rights and the NRA, this is absolutely ludicrous. It is absurd. No responsibility is needed, no licensing, no permits. Just a wild wild west waiting to go off.

To me personally, it is just people bored and wanting to LARP (Live Action Role Play) their fictional self from Call of Duty. What makes it dangerous is that some of these same people actively and casually talk about murdering/killing their opponents as well.

Where does the rhetoric of violence end before it becomes action?

Where are the leaders who should be taming this?

Absent. No one wants to stop it because no one wants to call it out as a problem.

Charlie specifically rants about wanting to know where the NRA is in all of this. The NRA, who used to be the guardians and purveyors of responsible gun ownership spend their time now fetishizing gun culture and gun rights as an absolute freedom. They praise Rittenhouse for his vigilantism. 

How is any of this responsible?

It’s not. It has devolved into another culture war issue. Everything serious is issue gets shoveled into the furnace of the culture wars now where it will never be discussed or tried be solved but simply live to divide us up. 

Charlie puts forth two ideas he thinks are completely nuts when it comes to the fetishization of gun violence and how it has override decent common-sense thinking.

1. The idea that it is acceptable for anyone, as long as they don’t have a criminal record, to be out and about with a gun with no concealed carry permit, license, or firearm training is just dumb and dangerous.

2. The idea that open carry of an assault rifle, particularly someone who is quite young, pretending to play dress up with weapon of war parading in public is normal in completely unhinged.

Bill points out that this is part of a larger radicalization in the nation that has been growing steadily over the last 30 years. In particular, this radicalization has been most potent and destructive inside the Republican party.

What has been really destructive is that it is not just guns that have become fetishized, but gun rights as well. The right to carry guns as a freedom that no one should impose on.

To this end, right wing media is glorifying Kyle Rittenhouse, trying to make him into a hero. This is not what should be the takeaway. This is a course that can lead to further violence, not less.

I gave my two cents on the matter last week, before the verdict came out and I stand by it.

The article I quoted at the beginning of my post comes from a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Opinion piece from Nov. 17, 2021, written by David Haynes. I found a lot of the weight given by this author comes from that older position of responsible gun ownership that many who are fetishizing guns and gun ownership rights appear to be neglecting if not abandoning.

Charlie and Bill move on to discuss the resignation of two long time FOX News contributors, Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes over Tucker Carlson’s three-part propaganda documentary whitewashing the events of the January 6thInsurrection broadcasting on FOX News streaming service FOX Nation called Patriot PurgeThe New York Timesreporting notes that this was just “simply part of the new right’s mopping up operation in the corners of conservative institutions that still house pockets of resistance to Donald J. Trump’s control of the Republican Party.” Not always a fan of the NYT in some respects, but this one hits it on head. I say that because, whether official or not, there were people posting memes on Twitter that appeared to have Carlson’s approval basically emasculating Goldberg for quitting and mocking him for what some see as a principled stand.

It is just a further tilt and submergence of FOX News into the quagmire of Trumpism, the guiding light of the Republican party.

Charlie asks the question:

What are and where are the red lines at FOX News?

The network has been casual and even supportive at undermining its news division and prioritizing its opinion section. Its helped spread and/or condoning anti-vaccination, anti-democratic, and a whole host of other issues to its audiences that are making America unsafe and weaker.

Charlie took the opportunity to “re-up” his previous letter to fellow Wisconsinite and former Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan who is now serving on the FOX News board of directors. Where is the responsible leadership anymore? MIA.

FOX News appears to be ruled over by the likes of Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson, and Sean Hannity (to a lesser extent). These primetime infotainment/opinion start exalt in the exit of men like Goldberg and Hayes. They revel in this new Trumpism right. If you didn’t already know who Ingraham and Carlson were underneath, this brazen behavior should tell you all you really need to know.

On the domestic front, Democrats continue to suck at messaging and really being on top of things most Americans care about. Stop trying to tell them what to think and listen more or you will let the Republicans, who are not right in the head, back into power.

The country is ready and able to handle some realism. Be realistic and straight up with people. Democratic politicians need to be talking about defeating COVID for finally, we are close, and addressing the real concerns people have about inflation. Don’t blow it off or ignore it. This can be done while at the same time emphasizing the positive fact that we are turning a corner and moving forward.

If anyone has ever heard, in a viral video, the soundbite of “don’t be suspicious”, play that in your head as you read the following: “Don’t be dismissive. Don’t be dismissive. Now, don’t be dismissive.”

There is more, but once again, you need to wake up Democrats and listen, stop with the arrogance before you end up leaving us at the mercy of ant-democratic nutjobs in the Republican party.

All for now.

J C Evans


The Bulwark Podcast: “Bill Kristol: Fetishizing Political Violence”

Conversations with Charlie (11/19/21)

Conversation 13:

Charlie’s Friday’s podcast had him talking with Greg Lukianoff, co-author of the 2015 Atlantic article and 2018 book of the same name The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure along with Jonathan Haidt and president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) (Nov. 19, 2021).

Before going any further, I’d like to take a moment to communicate by bias and stance on this matter. I know I have colleagues and friends who would disagree with the things that Lukianoff, through his foundation and book with Jonathan Haidt, has to say on matters of free speech and approaches to it. 

I, however, for whatever small qualms I may have agree on 90-95% of what Lukianoff and Haidt had to say in their 2015 article, which I regularly use with my own college students, and the subsequent book. 

Disagreements are good.

Agreement is good.

Too much either is bad. Balance is needed and the reality of the world, how one prepares people to face and deal with it quintessential to what college and higher education is meant to expose you to and should. 

As a people and as a nation, we need to be able to disagree and NOT turn it into new issues and conflicts that obscure the nuances of reality by reductionism to pathos and “I believe.”

Back to our regularly scheduled conversation and examination:

The main topic, though broad, under discussion between Charlie and Greg centered on Higher Education and the perveance of what is commonly called “cancel culture.”

To mention cancel culture, to dig into it, is quite a thorny issue. It clearly exists on both the right and the left, it is not singular to one side. It boils down to the idea of forbidding discussions and speaking, particularly things that make someone or some group of people uncomfortable. It tends to shut down any nuance debate.

That is a net negative for everyone whether they know it or not.

There is a simple solution to the problem of “if you don’t want to hear something or an opinion” and that is walk away, turn it off, or spend more time talking with yourself (Charlie’s take).

Charlie notes that he has been pushing back against similar issues like this, particularly free speech in higher education, for decades. He has been on the issue since the 1980s and 90s. What Charlie found annoying was the pervasive attitude of people getting indignant with someone over an opinion they didn’t like or a point of view they thought or felt to be offensive. The response was to shut down or lash out rather than take the opportunity to use the disagreement as a launch pad for constructive debate.

The entire purpose and point of modern universities is to expose people to new ideas, to learn, and some of those ideas and beliefs may make someone uncomfortable, but honestly, this is a good thing. You need that exposure to help you work out your own greater sense of self.

Dynamics over the past forty years have seen changes in how freedom of speech and freedom of expression are enforced. It began, and in some places it still is controlled, through speech codes. It began with the institutions dictating to students what could be said.

As Charlie points out, this was mirrored in the way that it was conservatives in the 80s and 90s who were incredibly critical of higher education. They still are in many ways. The issue is that has changed is that that criticism has penetrated to effect people who are considered moderates and even liberals.

Wanting to make it clear, because as noted earlier this is a thorny issue many people don’t take the time to engage with the complex details, Greg wants the audience to know that he is not some acolyte of the alt-right or so forth who is “gunning” for higher education. In fact, he states he is a Democrat. 

The problem though, driven by the lack of critical examination, that there is such resistance to dealing with the problem in a nontribal fashion that the same moderate and liberal critics are all being lumped in with those who are on the right. Who is doing that? People who don’t like their criticism, don’t like what they have to say.

Despite the fact that speech codes were defeated legally in the mid-1990s, research has shown that in 2008 almost 70+% of all universities in the country had some kind of speech code on campus.

They are still here and this begs the question:

How big is the problem really? What is the actual weight and impact of these speech codes?

There are new factions emerging in response to the issue. On one side you have intellectual figures who, believing the whole system of higher education has lost its way, are striking out on their own to form their own institution like the University of Austin being formed in Austin, TX. Right now it is only online and in the works.

“Its founders say it is dedicated ‘to the fearless pursuit of truth’”. One of the founders, Panos Kanelos’s opening announcement declares that “Our democracy is faltering, in significant part, because our educational system has become illiberal and is producing citizens and leaders who are incapable and unwilling to participate in the core activity of democratic governance.” 

This is not necessarily unreasonable, Greg even wishes them well in the endeavor, but whether it will take form and hold is another story.

There are other avenues, internal ones that might also be taken on too.

However, there is another party that looks at the system of higher education right now and sees nothing wrong at all.

Speaking as someone who is working in higher education, there is plenty wrong. I just am not one who is willing to throw out the baby with the bathwater yet. There are ways that good can be done within the existing system.

The basics is that there are real problems and Greg’s organization FIRE has recently turned to documenting much of the situation. They have been around since 2001, but only recently have become large enough to not have to dedicate all their time to putting out fires as part of their primary mission to defend the rights of students and faculty in regards to their free speech.

What most people know about the issues of free speech on university campuses stems from those extreme cases that have “broken out” into the mainstream media. However, the vast amount of cease are far less politically fraught ones and as a result are less frequently discussed in the media as a whole. Media is exponentially more interested in extreme controversies because that is what their audience is into. Shock value, strong emotional responses. That’s the hit of dopamine one wants.

Greg tells Charlies that one of the things FIRE has been trying to document is how often a professor is targeted for something he or she says. They published a report in 2020, statically the worst year for free speech on campus that they have recorded, in it found over 120 professors targeted for being fired. 

The number may seem insignificant in a large-scale view, but Greg really thought that this should be put in perspective because there are those who don’t think there’s a problem at all, who are using this as justification for blowing it off is no big deal rather than a problem to be addressed.

The majority of complaints are only coming from the larger universities like Stanford, Yale, Harvard, etc. And there’s an issues currently playing itself out at Yale law school that Greg points out to Charlie.

It started as a jokey email, written by a gay Native American student, which was sent out inviting students to a party. The email used the term “Traphouse” in its description and this is apparently a slang for a place that sells drugs. Keep in mind this was a joke email and it was written to be such, but apparently the joke didn’t land with some people.

It ended up being portrayed as racially insensitive against African American student, some of whom apparently took offense and thought they were targeted as a result.

This is making news now, but for people at FIRE this is just every day.

Another example is the Dorian Abbott case.

Abbott came under fire for writing an opinion a letter, he’s a scientist University of Chicago, stating that he thought the efforts for multi-cultural diversity being implemented were being misused and circumventing the need for merit admissions. It was an opinion, based in his scientific field of knowledge, and designed to bring attention to a problem. It rather caused a problem. As a consequence Abbott was disinvited from speaking at MIT. The disinvite was done because of what he said in the article and had nothing to do with what he was being asked to come speak about. 

That’s what’s making news, but the reality is that it’s happening quite a lot at other institutions as well.

Dorian Abbott sin wasn’t a scree on Facebook or using a racial slur, but expressing an opinion about the scientific merits of admission to science programs. That was his sin.

Greg does not think that to simply label this an example of the negative impact of “wokism” but to understand that there is much more complexity going on here all together. In the book, Lukianoff and Haidt point to SIX threads or factors that have brought us to the situation we are in:

1. Increasing political polarization since the 1980s

2. Rise in rates of anxiety, depression, and suicide among American adolescents

3. Emergence and intensification of safetysim among parents since the 1980s.

4. A decline in unsupervised free play in children since the 1980s.

5. Bureaucratic expansion and corporatization of the education system, particularly at eth college level.

6. A shift in how social justice is conceptualized, from a focus on equity and proportionality and the promotion of equal opportunity, to focus on equality of outcome.

It is the first issue Greg wants to talk more on, the spiraling expansion of political divide.

Part of the problem is that university disparity in political views has gotten incredibly wide. In the 1980s and 90s it was like 2:1 liberals to conservatives, which has increased to being closer to 10:1 in many places. 

The problem is not political bias but lack of diversity in viewpoints that can lead to an imbalance leading to groupthink and tribalism.

This is only increased thanks to the hyper-hierarchical nature of universities and the overreach and sometimes micromanagement by the administration.

Greg points out that the overwhelming amount of cases FIRE deals with are not malicious ones but are made up of nice students and nice professors saying something that they did not realize was going to trigger a negative response or interpretation in someone else. This made up 1500 incidents in 2020 alone.

The other factor involved is realizing that roughly 400 schools in this country educate about 50% of the higher education student population. It’s a factor of concentration that, again, is a nuance not discussed enough. 

Produced now in higher education, with its concentration and hierarchical structures running into hypersensitive student bodies, are students who are sometimes looking to get offended. Not only that, but they are then going to use that offense as a cudgel against someone else. It is incredibly unhealthy for people emotionally and for participation in an institute of higher learning.

Have people become more hypersensitive?

Yes, but that the same time there is more occurring…the nuance.

There are cynical cases where someone targets a professor because they don’t like them, but there is also a real and dangerous phenomenon of students coming to college with the belief that words can hurt them. 

Yes, words can hurt. They hurt more if you let them. You have a choice though, to perceive those words as hurtful and let that define you or to build up a stronger internal system, to be more resilient. Greg is a bit fuzzy here, but there is more that can be investigated.

Getting back to the origins of things on campuses, Greg notes that before 2014 it was mainly administrations who were guilty of speech codes and creating student fragility on campus.

However, around 2014 there was something like a lightning bolt that struck. Greg and others now noticed that it was the students, who had been the most vocal defenders of freedom of speech, became activists in favor of speech codes and safe spaces. 

It was this flip that Greg and Jonathan Haidt were trying to find the underlying cause of in their Atlantic article in 2015 that became the book of the same name in 2018: The Coddling of the American Mind

Greg and Jonathan saw that students were already arriving on campuses believing what they called “the three great untruths.” 

1. The untruth of fragility: What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker.

2. The untruth of emotional reasoning: Always trust your feelings.

3. The untruth of Us versus Them: Life is a battle between good and evil people.

Education is becoming a larger and larger battlefield in our current culture wars, as has been discussed much before here, but it is not simply a partisan issue. Instead, there is now a pincer movement underway against education from illiberal elements on the far right and left.

The impact on free speech overall is that idioms in this country like “it’s a free country” have fallen by the wayside and “You’re free to say what you want” has been replace with “Speech is violence.” That is not progress, which is regression. 

The danger to free speech and discourse comes from that conception of speech as a form of violence.

There must be a distinction a distinction between what is protected speech, what is protected by the first amendment, and what is not.

None of this is really new though. Speech and violence have been locked in a continuum for a long time. It needs to be said that yes, speech can lead to violence, something one says in the past could lead to someone being in a duel or getting their head chopped off.

It is our choice, as a culture to make the strong and difficult decisions here to preserve the difference.

Speech can be violence. If someone is actually threatening you, that is NOT protected speech, that crosses a line. Sexual and racial harassment are NOT protected speech. The nuance and distinctions are important. The mistake people make is that they are unable to discern that the speech they think is violence is NOT protected under the first amendment.

If we succumb to the quick emotional responses, misconceptions and distortions are leading us to perceive violence where it is not and undermines our ability to have meaningful discourse.

The problem here is that if one believes speech is violence then applying it towards other means they can apply it back at you. It cuts both ways. It can create a downward spiral of violence.

Such a spiral has been increasing over the last 10 years.

The underlying issue to all of it, again, is that potent and nuanced argument is part and parcel of what is needed in a democracy. Democracy calls us to settle with words what we used to settle on fields of battle with weapons. The halls of government are meant to battlefields of words, not weapon.

Institutions of higher education need to be places open to all and to all forms of expression, a place to debate those ideas. Instead, campuses are becoming perfect rhetorical fortresses (PDF) as Greg calls them. If you are conservative, they are efficient rhetorical fortresses.

What this means is that in the perfect or efficient, one has immediate permission to end any line of discourse or discussion, to not hear the other side. It justifies the layer upon layer use of ad hominem attacks to be launched by academics at any disruption in order to avoid a substantive argument one deems as “uncomfortable” to them.

There are layers to it too. 

On level one, someone can simply make a dismissal on th grounds of political disagreement. On level two, one can dismiss the discourse on grounds of identity. It is all layered as to never get to the heart of the real problem by giving those involved a myriad of avenues to excuse themselves from participation.

As a result, our current political rhetoric it is not there to persuade anyone but simply to signal, to mark out tribal identification.

If you do argue at all, the PRF is designed to be a cut one off through t personal attacks rather than substantive debate.

Higher education needs openness and it needs to be open itself to experimentation to improve it as an institution.

The provocative question is this: Aare there any ideas that should be prohibited in higher education?

Generally, the ideal would be for everyone to remember the notion of academic detachment, of being able to enter a counterfactual mindset that allows one to see the whole picture from all sides. This is a return to being able serve as a devil’s advocate in order to get deeper into issues rather than explore or avoid them based on identity or political preference.

So, where is all of this heading?

Greg is afraid it will get worse before it gets better.

No one is yet stepping up to say this is going too far yet and that’s a bad sign.

All for now.

J C Evans


The Bulwark Podcast: “Greg Lukianoff: We Are Creating a Culture of Student Fragility”

Conversations with Charlie (11/18/2021)

Conversation 12:

Charlie’s Thursday’s podcast had him talking with Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and member of the House Jan. 6 Select Committee (Nov. 18, 2021).

A major point of discussion later in the conversation covered the mistakes that had been made with the Mueller Report and Russia investigation, but the bulk of the conversation centered on Schiff’s new book Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could.

The conversation opens with Schiff’s emotional closing argument from Trump’s first impeachment trial.

This sets the stage for Charlie’s feeling that that speech was a warning that to let Trump escape responsibility was an invitation for Trump to do something like he had done or worse again. He did just that, hence his second impeachment. Escaping responsibility emboldens Trump.

Charlie asks Adam if he has regrets for the ways the Democrats handled the investigation and impeachment of Trump because every time they failed Trump took it as permission to keep going and do more he shouldn’t rather than be chastened.

Adam says he does not because what let Trump escape consequences was the fact that the Republicans let him off the hook.

Adam is quick to admit that he is obviously not objective on the matter. The reality was that since nothing Trump did was going to ever cause the Republican senators (in particular) come to hold him to account, to impeach him, there were serious constraints on what Democrats could ever really accomplish.

The real problem was that there was a growing problem, a ballooning issue that developed from each attempt to hold Trump accountable making him feel more powerful and more willing to see just how far he could go or just how much he could get away with.

From the Mueller Report on Russia, which Schiff noted that AG Bill Barr really hamstringed in its delivery to the public as to mislead its conclusions to the public, to Ukraine and the first impeachment to the January 6 insurrection, each time Trump got away with it.

Each escape made Trump more willing, embolden to do whatever he wanted and act as if he was above the law. In a more layman terms, this is what happens with a spoiled child who is not punished and simply gets away with more and more. The difference of course is that the child in question here is specifically a 70 something-year-old pampered brat from Queens.

Charlie and Adam turn to talking about the book, in particular how Adam has come to feel, based largely on the situation with Trump mainly, that many of his colleagues in the Republican party continue to roll over and surrender of their principles and beliefs in the service of one man.

Even when presented with clear evidence and knowing what Trump was guilty of doing, they let him walk away with no real consequences.

This of course begs the question as Charlie puts it to Adam, from his view: What happened to the Republican party? What specifically is his view on this from being in Congress and serving with many of them.

Adam says that those questions, particularly the first one, is what inspired him to write his book because he wanted to know, to explore and understand what would make these people, the Republicans in Congress, turn their backs on their own values, their own beliefs, to pay homage and give service to demagogue.

How did this happen?

The answer, according to Adam, is that it happens one day at a time and one concession at a time. It does not happen all at once and that is why many don’t see it happening until its happened. It’s like that cautionary story of the frog boiling in a pot, never really realizing the danger as the water slowly cooks them. In this case, it cooks their integrity.

It starts out with small concessions that grow over time, you swallow a small lie and then you swallow bigger lies, each time you let it go someone like Trump will come back and ask you accept bigger compromises and bigger lies. Inch by inch each concession and lie peels a part of one’s integrity and principles with it. 

Adam laments that he has witnessed people he had a lot of admiration for on the Republican side of the isle give what they believed and stood for away in the name of Trump.

“Power doesn’t corrupt people, people corrupt power.”

Robert Carroll

For Adam, power is telling because it reveals those who are corruptible. 

Power reveals who someone is, not too different from what Brian Klaas talked about on Tuesday’s podcast.

To illustrate the point, Adam contrasts two members of Congress he works with who are both Republicans. On the one hand there is Rep. Liz Cheney who Adam says has great admiration for because she stood by her principles and refused to give into the “big lie”. She lost her leadership position in the GOP caucus as a result and continues to be derided. On the other hand there is the woman who replaced her in GOP leadership, Rep. Elise Stefanik. Here is someone who saw the opportunity for power and raised her hand to say “I’ll do it. I’ll uphold the ‘big lie.’ Put me in.” 

This is a reveal of who both these women are deep down. Cheney revealed that deep down, for whatever you don’t like about her or disagree with her, that she is genuine in her beliefs and principles and is willing to stick by them. Stefanik is revealed to be a political opportunist who will do whatever she needs to do to get ahead, to get power.

It is very telling how this conversation take up and gives some practical examples to what Brian Klaas talked to Charlie about earlier in the week. There are those who seek power as a means to serve and be dedicated to those they serve while there are also those who simply seek power for the sake of the power itself and attention it garners.

Another point brought up is Adam’s relationship with his colleague on the House Intelligence Committee, its former chairman and now ranking Republican, Devin Nunes. Nunes, in the Trump years, became an incredibly partisan and controversial figure. However, Adam states that he used to have a good working relationship with Nunes… then Trump came to power.

Adam sees it as a classic case of someone who just slowly turns and reveals himself to be something you didn’t think they were. He was lured in by power. He was once someone who was critical of the crazy wing of the GOP, calling Tea Party members “lemmings in suicide vests” but when Trump came on the scene he drifted into that circle.

His close relationship with Trump compromised Nunes. He chose his relationship with Trump, according to Adam, with doing his job as head and member of the House Intelligence Committee. His poor have isolated Nunes and caused him only to have the option left of aligning himself with MAGAworld. It is the only venue left to him where he might find belonging, there is not a left otherwise. That is the consequence of his choices.

The conversation shifts to the particular grotesqueness for those in Congress and GOP who are almost sycophantly willing to accommodate the very worst of Trump and MAGAworld.

Men like former speaker Paul Ryan, Rep. Jim Jordan, Rep. Mark Meadows, and Rep. Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy is motivated by a belief that truth is for suckers, but each has their own motivations for why they accommodated Trump.

1. Ryan’s greatest flaw was fatalistically believing he could guide Trump. He accommodated Trump like other GOP leaders who bargained they could control Trump when it ended up him controlling them.

2. Jordan is motivated by his perception that he sees everything through a sporting event lens. It’s his team versus your team and that’s the way he conducts himself. Doesn’t matter how you win, cheat, who cares, just win. 

3. Meadows, who became Trump’s last acting Chief of Staff is motivated by the seduction of power. Being close to the center of power and being Trump’s right-hand man is his goal. 

The common denominator is that when exposed to pure power it strips away the veneer of these people to reveal what was really underneath them all along. To reveal who they are deep down.

Adam does note that with the book, he wanted to make sure that his time wasn’t simply spent focusing on those people who have revealed themselves to be “villains.” He believed that there are heroes who have also revealed themselves during these times as well. 

Adam names the likes of former Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, former Lt. Col Alexander Vindman, and former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) under Trump Dan Coates. These are people who stood up for their principles. Their stories are important for what they were NOT willing to concede on and the lies they would not accept. 

What Adam finds particularly disturbing, as it pertains to Jan. 6, having been there that day and now serving on the House Select Committee investigating, was that it was less the people outside who were trying to break in who he thinks are threatening than those on the inside with him dressed in suits and ties.

Adam recounts on Jan. 6 being approached on the floor by some Republican colleagues urging him to leave and find safety. They were afraid for his safety if seen by those breaking in and Adam says he was initially quite touched by this concern. Then another thought crossed his mind: none of them, including him would have to be in fear if you and others in your party hadn’t been spreading lies about the 2020 election they were there to certify. Were they so naïve to think there wouldn’t be consequences?

Those on the outside trying to break in mostly believed “The Big Lie” that the election had been stolen, but the vast majority on the inside knew it was a lie and had simply exploited it for their own gain politically. Many of these same Congress men and women continue to push “The Big Lie” even after what happened on Jan. 6.

The consequences of “The Big Lie” continue to echo across the country, stoked by political opportunists upon those who’s partisanship shuts them off from reasoning. The moves now are aimed at attacking local election officials, state officials, and others to try and make sure next time they will have the ability to override the will of the people. That is real danger facing us now.

Of course, as Charlie asks Adam:

How many of your Republican colleagues truly believe “The Big Lie”?

Answer: almost none of them believe “The Big Lie” but instead they are just going along with it.

There are perhaps some of the more mentally unwell members like Rep. Gosar, Boebert, and Taylor Greene who may actually believe it, but most of it is just performative assholery that is really hurting our country.

Case in point: Rep. Steve Scalise.

He was on Chris Wallace‘s Fox News Sunday show and, though repeatedly asked by Wallace whether President Joe Biden was the legitimate president, refused to denounce “The Big Lie” and say Biden was the legitimate president.

Adam still can’t believe this because he refuses to believe that when Steve Scalise first started out to run for Congress (came to office in 2008) that he told himself: “I’m doing this because one day I will get to perpetuate a lie that aims to undermine our democracy.” Of course he didn’t think that or believe that. He is doing this now because it is performative and serves his political party and ends, just like some many other Republicans. 

The majority of the Republican members of Congress appear willingly to refuse to recognize the truth and are failing to uphold their oaths in the name of political opportunity and party loyalty.

What is worse, they are trying to spread and persuade other people to actively mistrust our elections, at least if it doesn’t favor them. 

If people fail to trust the integrity of elections, what is the alternative? This is where it comes back to the promotion of violence as the alternative.

Enter Rep. Paul Gosar. What he is doing cannot be ignored because ignoring it won’t make it go away, in fact, it serves as a tacit endorsement that this behavior is normal. It is a truly dangerous slippery slope. 

Doubt it? 

After he was censured, Paul Gosar went back to his office and retweeted his violent video AGAIN.

Adam feels that the ENTIRE “Big Lie” is an invitation to violence.

There is an astonishingly high and growing number of people in the Republican party who are receptive to the view that violence as an acceptable option if they are not in power or winning an election.

It wasn’t too long ago that the Republican party was able to cast out former Rep. Steve King for his white nationalist views…that was 2019, just TWO years ago. Look at how the situation as devolved since. Now, rather than ostracizing Paul Gosar as they did Steve King, Republican politicians are rallying around him. Amazing how quick and powerful negative partisanship can work its influence.

From my point of view, what is happening here is the promotion and acceptance of individuals who should be treated as anti-models, people whose behavior should be seen as unacceptable and punished are now becoming models others seek to emulate and copy. The central and most recent master anti-model to model transformation is the former president Donald Trump.

Trump’s influence is a poison in the Republican party that is spreading and rendering the party as unhealthy as Adam sees it. The party itself is degenerating into something less than a party and simply a cult-like organization obsessed with their dear leader, Donald Trump.

The degeneration of Trump exists in the conservative media ecosystem too. As Adam puts it quite bluntly, the thought leader of the Trump Republican party is none other than FOX News Host Tucker Carlson. This is a man who goes on TV and talks about white replacement theory, who spread misinformation, and who touts President Viktor Orbán of Hungry, a quasi-dictator, as a model of the leadership America needs.

The rot continues, as Adam tells Charlie, because Republican Minority leader Kevin McCarthy has no independent judgment outside of Donald Trump’s instructions.

The Republican party in its drive for power appears to see no boundaries. They are willing to get in bed with the devil to win, to join with the conspiratorial QAnon friendly side of the Republican party because they think it’s a path to power. 

This is kind of striking to me, personally, because where people talk about the far right and far left controlling the narratives in their parties (Republican and Democrats respectively), it seems worth pointing out that though “the Squad” and Progressives in the Democratic party may pull on the strings a bit and rattle their sabers, unlike the Republican extremists like the Freedom Caucus and QAnon caucus, the Democrats can still governor from a moderate position and not bow down to conspiratorial and extreme majorities, even if that is what Republicans want people to think.

All for now.

J C Evans


The Bulwark Podcast: “Adam Schiff: The GOP Has Created a Monster”

Conversations with Charlie (11/17/2021)

Conversation 11:

Charlie’s Wednesday’s podcast had him talking with David Priess of Lawfare discussing some of the worst figures mulling around on the right to far right (Nov. 17, 2021).

Charlie opens by telling David he had the following figures he wanted to talk about on the podcast with him. They are Paul Gosar, Mike Lindell, Chris Christie, Michael Flynn, and Sidney Powell. 

To which David replies: “my spleen hurts.”

It is just a fresh batch of fresh hell and crazy that appears to be growing.

There are going to be those, Charlie admits, who will see all of this as getting a bit repetitive. Charlie counters with a poignant Orwellian quotation: “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” This is a point Charlie wants to emphasize for the continued scrutiny of things appear to be the same things we are always covering.

Stories are often right in front of us, you don’t need new stories.


Not because we’re repeating ourselves but because these things won’t go away, they are still a problem we should pay attention to when our culture these days is so easily able to forget.

According to Charlie, sometimes we have to stop and pay attention to the central reality of our political world, that which is right in front of our nose. They don’t go away because we move on or ignore them.

Mike Lindell

He recently had an interview with former president Donald Trump, who did in a tuxedo (which felt weird). It was just a crazy interview with two crazy old men. In particular, Lindell keeps opening his mouth and sounding more and more like he has lost touch with reality, particularly after the 2020 election loss of Trump..

Charlie points out that in a normal world, Mike Lindell’s behavior over this past year would have resulted in someone close to him, a relative or what not, seeking to check in on him, find out if he was okay or off medications or just needing professional help.

However, in our twisted reality, he is instead sitting down for an interview with Donald Trump, former president of the United States.

He doesn’t need to be interviewing Donald Trump or anything else for that matter, he needs an intervention.

Charlie and David’s views, and it is one I agree with, is that Lindell appears to be going through a prolonged manic episode. It is so bad that is seems to be bordering on edge of being possessed by insanity in many ways.

He continues to rant and rave about election fraud and delusional beliefs in somehow the 2020 election will be overturned and Trump reinstated. It is crazy cult leader type of behavior honestly.

But perhaps the worst part of this and everything else is that when one looks to the Republican party, to supposed sane adults in the room, what are they doing?


In fact, they seem fully intent on trying to put Trump himself back in office despite all his reckless craziness.

This is one of those obvious things, right in front of our noses that we have a hard time, as Orwell noted, paying attention to in the end. Republicans should be moving on from Trump, but because they crave power and want it back and see Trump as a vehicle (despite all the baggage) to it, they indulge it. In fact, there are more than quite a few who encourage it if not actively believe what Trump believes.

What is worse is that those “true believers” are moving into the upper echelons of the Republican party, along side those who are silent, those who just play along (facilitators), and those who just kiss up to Trump (sycophants). 

It is all terribly stupid and dangerous mixture.

There is a fantastic analogy offered up to explain and reinforce the Orwell quotation about why we need to pay attention to these things right in front of us that are dangerous.

Imagine it is realized that there is an asteroid hurtling towards Earth and it is going to wipe out all life. For the first week in our media culture we would talk about it constantly and relentlessly. However, and this is really sad, come week 2, there would be those who would look at those still talking seriously about the asteroid and question “why are you still talking about that?” They might tell you, pretending its not serious, to “move on” and “it’s not that big of a deal.” If you are still talking about it you must just be obsessed or suffer from Asteroid Derangement Syndrome.

This of course ignore the fact that there is STILL an asteroid hurtling at us.

Paul Gosar

It is a strange sign of the times, the Bizzarro world of the Republican party that  the same House members who expelled Liz Cheney from leadership for having principles and calling out the lies are going to stand up and defend Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona against his censure and removal from committees for retweeting a violent anime video depicting violence against AOC and President Joe Biden.

When Charlie and David are talking about this it had not been voted on yet, but it did and Gosar was censured. Republican representatives Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney broke GOP ranks to censure Gosar.

Those who came to Gosar’s defense had some truly awful arguments that were quite weak and pathetic in trying to defend him. Matt Gaetz tried to say this was just fiction and not a big deal, perhaps he should tell Sen. Ted Cruz to get over Big Bird then. Lauren Boebert, who is riff with her own controversy and corruption, took the opportunity to go on a horribly hateful and fictious rant against Rep. Ilhan Omar and Eric Swalwell in order to try and deflect for Gosar. A lot of it was just a garbage bin on fire.

Paul Gosar has continued to dismiss the violent intent behind this video and has refused to apologize for it, even though, as I might add, being an elected official with that kind of prestige and power this behavior really should be ground for resignation. He should just leave office if he wants to be just another far right Twitter troll. tNo wonder none of his siblings don’t like him.

The real insult comes when he thinks people are dumb and will accept the excuse that he posted that violent alteration of an anime video in order, in his words, to engage a younger audience. This is the flimsiest crap of an excuse because that’s not what he shared, it’s not why he cared about sharing it. He cared about sharing it for exactly what most assume he did it for: to be a troll and engage in the growing threats of violence in our culture wars.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez rebuttal speech was quite a pinpointed rebuttal, way better than the ad hominem diarrhea that came out of Rep. Boebert’s mouth.

Chris Christie

Then there is Chris Christie and his amazing publicity tour that appears to have access to all the major TV shows out there. It’s like everyone wants to talk to him. Why? Because he authored a book and is seeking to position himself as a better future for the Republican party.

The problem is no matter how hard he tries he remains a hypocrite with Trump. This is the man who first endorsed him in 2016 and helped bring him into mainstream legitimacy. And when he is confronted or questioned or pressed on this and his mistake he evades. 

David tells Charlie he feels there is a connection between Chris Christie and Paul Gosar, particularly as it pertains to our attention economy. 

It’s not the substance of what you say that matters anymore, it’s the fact that you’re getting out there and forcing everybody to pay attention to you regardless of what you are saying. 

It’s the same situation and media trap that Trump exploited of the media in his 2015-16 presidential campaign. 

All of this, particularly with Chris Christie, is designed to help him pave over his past mistakes. He is just shouting out a version of “Look at me! I think Trump is bad! I think Trump is crazy! I think I’m a better  choice for the party but please make sure you ignore the fact that when I was actually in a position to make real decisions I rolled over for Trump”. This is the man who doesn’t make hard or tough decisions, he falls in line and simply chases his own political opportunism.

Both Christie and Gosar are engaged in this attention seeking behavior, like Trump. It’s not about good press or bad press for any of them, it’s all about a “please pay attention to me, please let everybody think I’m relevant” position some part of their soul apparently can’t do without. It’s desperation, and it’s killing our country on so many levels with its rippling damage.

All of this reflects badly on us, the American people, who reward those who pay attention to the bright shiny objects around us. 

Media Criticism

This is the same deep-seated cause behind our hatred of the media. 

If it is not a partisan critique (and that is symbiotic too), criticism of media usually tends to focus on the ways the MSM and all media sensationalize, focus on sensational stories, new while ignoring other, perhaps less riveting stories. 

The problem is the media, the media + audience which is us. We are part of the problem. The media in many ways is a reflection of what we, the audience, indicate to them we want by where we focus our attention, our eyeballs on our screens. 

Our culture is addicted to controversy. We love it. We hate it. We will not admit that we do both and we will only pretend like “Oh, I hate it! I don’t like it!” without ever admitting our own fault and complicity. We are an addicts.

This “need for attention” may sometimes produce something that is newsworthy, but for the most part it is a drowning out of the “real” news that we should be paying attention to because there’s something sexier or more violent or more controversial or more destructive that will capture our attention instead. 

All media are guilty. The partisan breakdown means there are far right and far left media groups fighting for attention and in the middle, more traditional news sources have to compete with them and join in similar sensational tactics. The problem we have is that we failed to recognize that that gravitation to those things in the media that we get mad at is the result of them catering to our own emotional immaturity and impulses.

Michael Flynn

Here is a guy, who having followed some of the crazy conspiracy stuff out there, including QAnon, has never left my view in many respects. It is almost hard to remember that Michael Flynn is a former three-star general, national security advisor to Trump (short stay), and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA).

Charlie and David discuss reporting that has come out through Jonathan Karl’s new book discussing that Flynn had a very active role in trying to subvert the 2020 election. 

Someone who used to work under Flynn and was still at the DOJ received a call from him that portrayed Flynn as manic and unhinged. He tried to convince this official to engage in illegal behavior to seize ballots in order to protect Trump. He was ignored. This is the man who lied to the FBI, plead guilty, turned to fight the conviction, and then got pardoned by Trump.

Flynn is dangerous because he’s a step beyond the normal sycophant, this is a man who is talking about having “one nation under one religion” and all kinds of Christian supremacist nonsense. What is worse is that having been high in positions of power, Flynn is dangerous because he appears very willing to possibly commit treason perhaps if he thinks it could benefit a particular partisan cause or side he is on.

Michael Flynn’s interference isn’t the craziest part to come out from Jonathan Karl’s book, there is also Flynn’s former lawyer. 

Sidney Powell

The same DOJ official who was contacted by Flynn was also contacted by Sidney Powell, another deeply entrenched (now) QAnon crazy person.

Apparently, she tried to pressure the same official that Flynn did into illegal action by spinning for him a bogus media conspiracy story that the CIA Director Gina Haspel was injured in Germany shortly after the election and taken into custody while on a clandestine mission for the president.

Supposedly she’s been on a secret CIA Mission to recover a server in Germany that contained information proving Trump had won the election. Supposedly she was on a secret mission when she was injured and captured according to Powell. Powell wanted the DOJ official to authorize a special mission to rescue her. 

I guess my first thought here would be: “Is someone punking me? Really?!?”

Sidney Powell wanted a DOJ official to order a special ops mission to get Haspel and the clandestine server recover. Nonsense.

This isn’t just bad information or misinformation; this is bat shit crazy stuff.

It’s so absurd that if Hollywood would reject this story if this was proposed as a movie.

This stuff  goes all the way back to Bannon and Trump’s former Acting Chief of Staff Mark Meadows who are both refusing to participate with the January 6 committee and turnover information. The information is still finding its way out and it is looking to be incredibly damaging and threatening to our country. But the Republican party is all in on standing by their man Trump. Jeez.

The sad part is that there are lots of Republicans who know better or are silent on the matter and just go along with it. That is terrifying. I guess they’ll just sit on the ship’s decks while it sinks or pretend it’s all fine as the asteroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere repeating that classic now meme of the dog in a room on fire saying, “This is fine.”

Much of this is the direct consequences of negative partisanship. What can we honestly expect when opposing sides invest much of their energy into completely demonizing the other side? As Charlie notes, you get a get out of jail free card for whatever bad behavior you commit as long as you don’t give ground to the opposition or as you would call them “the enemy.” It is a commitment to the ultimate ends justify the means approach.

With political violence and threats of it on the rise, America is finding out that there is a staggering lack or deficiency of leadership in our political structures on a national level, at least not any that isn’t already demonized. There is also a strong lack of people willing to stand up and call it out behavior and rhetoric that is driving us apart and towards our own demise.

A case in point is the guy who turned CRT into bogyman, Christopher Ruffo, who tweeted a serious bit of scary rhetoric that Charlie responded to on Twitter.

Rather than have a disagreement and talk about in search for nuance in answers, the gut check is just to go straight for emotional fader is the mantra of our current cultural political age.

It’s a normalization of coup like behavior and the all or nothing mentality is not one like cult behavior that is just frightening and more needs to be done to push back.

All for now.

J C Evans


The Bulwark Podcast: “David Priess: It Wasn’t a Hoax”

Conversations with Charlie (11/16/2021)

Conversation 10:

Charlie’s Tuesday’s podcast had him talking with Brian Klaas, political science professor at the University College London and columnist at the Washington Post (Nov. 16, 2021).

Brian comes on to talk to Charlie about his new book, Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How It Changes Us. I have not gotten a chance to read this book, but I want to and want to even more after this interview and talk.

Before getting to the book and its discussion of corruption, particularly as to how power attracts and can affect those who have it, Charlie and Brian talk more about Monday’s arraignment of Steve Bannon.

Charlie calls it Bannon’s “cry of defiance” and he showed it by livestreaming his turning himself in to authorities all while ranting about how he’s the victim.

Brian, who has studied authoritarianism and despots, points out that what Steve Bannon is doing is a classic authoritarian tactic, a systematic attack on democratic system and the rule of law. Bannon is one of the major figures in this approach.

Bannon is the role model now for the victim complex central to Trumpism. He lashes out at AG Merrick Garland and President Joe Biden as being “out to get him.”

This victimhood is a classic part of authoritarian playbook according to Brian.

The strategy aims to make one’s followers feel like they are victims too. This is used to create the “us versus them” dynamic rather quickly and can be, and is by people like Bannon, framed to undermine, to be weaponized against Democratic institutions, making them the enemy. 

The reality is that Bannon is behaving like an absurd clown, he’s raging against phantoms and against his own bad decisions. He wants to evade consequences, but he doesn’t want you to see that or pay attention to it. He wanted this spectacle; he knew he was very likely going to be arrested and he wants to use it to his advantage and stoke victim outrage. 

It’s just bogus nonsense. 

However, the really dangerous element at work, an undercurrent in our culture that can be observed in Bannon’s livestream audience is who and how many are watching. Brian brings this up by noting that he is less worried by those diehard fans of Bannon who tuned in, but the others. Particularly, those who tuned in for the entertainment. That is the really dangerous part here.


Because it has a corrosive effect on our cultural and political system.

It’s an outgrowth of our larger issues with people’s engagement caring more about sensationalism and entertainment. I’d like to not turn in to Imperial Rome, but most of the news media is already going there because it is WHAT WE WANT FROM THEM. It is symbiotic.

There is a danger in the way that media is blending us into lump groups when it comes to how we are perceived. It is a real wicked problem.

The challenge is that when looking at Trump supporters, or looking at those who voted for Trump in 2020, it is a mistake to assume they are all the same. That is being guilty of the same stereotyping many of them do.

Really, as Brian sees it, and I agree, many of Trump’s supporters really fall into one of two categories, minimally. The first are those ride or die supporters who revere Trump like some reincarnation of Jesus on Earth. Those folks are beyond persuasion. However, there is a marginal group, significant enough, who can be reached. 

Not just “can be reached” but essentially “need to be reached.”

Those persuadable Republicans out there are ones that Democrats, being the mainly and only sane national party right now, need to pull out the stops to win over. Doing that is how you turn the tide back against the craziness of Trumpism that is currently consuming much of the Republican party.

On a microcosm, as it pertains to Bannon having to go now before the Jan. 6 Committee, Democrats need to actively seek the truth and depict Bannon as the clown he is without engaging in his level of tactics. Do NOT stoop to his level because that is what he wants. Show the American people that you are in pursuit of serious truth, not grandstanding. Paint the contrast.

At the end, this is about bringing people who are guilty or commit offenses to account. Show people this, the persuadable ones that you are seeking real justice and those people can be brought back.

Charlie and Brian now finally move on to talk about Brian’s new book: Corruptible: Who Gets Power and How It Changes Us

For me, this is where the conversation gets even more interesting and really gets me excited to read it. I read his previous book, The Despot’s Apprentice (2017), and this one really appeals to me because of his socio-political research combined with scientific studies about the impact and effects of power on human individuals. It hits a sweet spot for me in terms philosophy, persuasion, politics, sociological issues, etc.

Charlie called the book, having read it, a meditation on the corruptible nature of all power and what it does to people. Again, love this.

They turn to playing a video commercial of types that Brian created to promote the book and explain it a bit that is awesome, take a look:

The video is unfortunately, as I was unable to find just “it”, on Twitter for those who may not be able to access it but the podcast with Charlie they do play it so you can listen to the audio at the podcast for the show linked below.

The book centers on power and who is attracted to power, what power does to those who have it, and the ways it effects people.

One story that Charlie notes is an interview that Brian did with the daughter of a former cannibalistic dictator from Africa. Needless to say, without getting into details, it was fascinating to note how exposure to power affected the daughter and raised questions about the desire for power being something in our DNA.

Even though she was repelled by what her father had done, it did not completely put her off to the idea of one day seeking power too. In fact, she was quite proud of the power and prestige of her surname, she had pride in it.

Of course, scientists have power that a power gene does exist in the human DNA and make up.

Despite this, Brian was drawn to a lot of this because of how little study in the social science has focused on role of people in general for the gaining and application of power.

Speaking of pride in a surname, Brian points out that one cannot go the last 5-6 years in American politics without talking about Trump. In particular, Brian is fascinated by how little attention has been given to Trump’s personality and make-up in that quest for power. It has not been completely ignored, but a lot of academic focus has gone elsewhere.

This is a point where Brian and I are in simpatico on the matter, because as my own book (based on my dissertation) explores, the personality and disposition of models is exponentially moer important than most realize.

Brian notes that with power and those who use/abuse it, there are really TWO kinds of personalities involved.

1. There is the example of the HOA official, the petty tyrant, who engages in petty behavior from their position of power because they can. On this low level, there is often no competition for that kind of position, so it’s like “rolling out the red carpet” to those who are eager and hungry for power.

These kinds of people are power-hungry for the sake of being able to dictate how to do things or what rules to enforce on others.

2. Another story from the book talks of a psychopathic janitor from synecdoche New York. In that case, one is witnessing the other type of power craving, those who have the traits referred to as the Dark Triad.

Brian points out the basics of the triad as consisting of:

Machiavellian designs + Narcissism + Psychopathy = Dark Triad.

These are the kinds of people who possess the skill at obtaining power, they are VERY good at it, but they are also REALLY bad at wielding it for anyone other than themselves if that. They are though, these types of power seekers, absolutely obsessed by it.

Charlie and Brian discuss how his book spends a lot of time focusing not just on interviews but specifically on building systems that might repel and keep away those types of people who possess qualities of the dark triad.

Our current system does not do this, in fact, it attracts and promotes these kinds of people.

Brian offers up a common example, an analogy of the microcosm of how the wrong people obtain power: a 30-minute job interview.

The objective in such a case is to charm your interviewer who is hiring, to get that job. It is absolutely perfect for someone who is a psychopathic narcissist. They are masters of charm and charisma.

When hired and in a position of power and responsibility, these same people allow their “lizard brain” to drive their decision making. It often drives many of their decisions. They usually fail to be fair and just in decisions and lack empathy of any kind.

It is worth remembering that people who are actually psychopaths have brains that are actually, clinically broken. Their amygdala does not work. This is of course the part of the brain that regulates emotion.

So, what can be done?

Brian’s book attempts to try and seek out ways and ideas for pushing back against these people who are attracted to power and dangerous. These people are self-selecting themselves to seek out leadership and power. They are also many people who are currently in leadership roles now.

This leads to the question, a kind of chicken and the egg conundrum.

Are power seeking people who are corrupt attracted to power or are the institutions that attract them corrupting them?

The answer is both. 

The challenge is discerning which is doing which.

Is the person who has psychopathy attracted to power and gets into the system and therefore corrupts the system or does the system bring down somebody who might be inclined or susceptible to the power.

The answer is different because both are possible issues and both require unique solutions, there is no one solution for ALL situations.

Brian points out what is going on in the Republican party right now. It is problem of the power of models. Models inspire emulation in others. So, those who are rising up in the party now are looking to those models, men like Donald Trump, Matt Gaetz, etc. and becoming more like them. They are following the zeitgeist in the party.

Members of the Republican party who appear to base their leadership on principles and not just for the sake of power, like Adam Kinzinger and Anthony Gonzalez, are joining a long string of Republicans who are leaving national office because the Republican party no longer has a place for them. They feel they don’t belong anymore.

The party system, particularly the Republican party, have become corrupted. As a consequence, they are attracting corrupt people who will play along with the new zeitgeist. It has become a self-selecting process. 

It’s terribly dangerous for American politics going forward.

How do people push back against this?

It starts by simply enforcing the rules and having accountability. Where accountability is absent, think about Steven Bannon right now and the Paul Gosar who are being blindly protected by their partisan allies. The consequence is that their bad behavior not only is no longer taboo but is moving towards normal, even desired, because of the absence of accountability and enforcement of rules.

The people who don’t yet adhere to this new standard, this new model, will over time come to view it as acceptable and will slide towards the same inappropriate behavior because there is no incentive to do otherwise.

It’s more about the system of accountability and the normalcy of how you see the behavior of those around you that become endemic and systematic. The ghost is that people often fail to recognize their own place in the process. They sit around waiting for a savior instead, as Brian notes that his last chapter of his book is called “Waiting for Cincinnatus”. This is a fun inside Roman history joke because Cincinnatus was the true Roman noble who had great power and when the crisis passed, the put that power down and went back to his life. In America, this is the same mythological status we place on George Washington, our American Cincinnatus. The problem is that such men are not common, they are incredibly rare. We cannot wait for them.

People need to reorient themselves and realize that, assume, that power-hungry, abusive people are systematically and exponentially more drawn to power than others.

Brian is a strong proponent for having the  conversations about holding our leaders accountable but we also should be having conversations about those who are not seeking power and who might be better suited for power. 

What drives them away?

Many face and weigh the probability of death threats and all kinds of horrible things that are going to be hurled at them because that is the current common place in our society right now. 

When one considers that, many would say “no thank you” and pass.

America needs to make power more palatable and acceptable and friendly to those who don’t want it because honestly we do need them in power. American and the world needs them in lieu of rolling out the red carpet for the worst among us who actively seek that power.

Society needs to want people who want to serve, not people who simply want power.

If you don’t do this, if you don’t make the system more attractive to them, those people won’t get involved and if they do, they won’t stay. Again, this crisis is playing out right in front of us in the Republican party. Those who believe they serve and are in service it the nation and principles are being driven out, pressured to resign, or face retribution for not following the leader (Donald Trump). Instead, those who think they serve the nation and have principles but are simply there for the power stay or fill in when the others who were genuine leave because they are tiered of the horse crap.

Part of the big problem, the seduction for people to authoritarianism is based on a fallacy. That fallacy is the assumption that authoritarianism and authoritarians are the ones who get things done. The reality is that they are not that good once they’re in power as seeking it, many actually make things worse rather than beeter than the democratic institutions they sought to replace. 

The catch comes from the fact that authoritarian leaders are masters of deception. A great example is that of Mussolini. He promised to “get trains running on time” and in fact, he didn’t make the trains run on time the way people think he did. Instead, he took credit for previous investments and actually made things worse. Sound familiar?

So, what can we actually do about all of this?

An answer: Actively recruit incorruptible people, people who don’t crave power and screen out corruptible ones.

Charlie: How do we do that?

Answer: There is need for lots of competition and need to make power palatable to everyone. The system should create competition. This is where gerrymandering and other rigging of the political landscape is becoming self-inflicted wounds.

But what are the most important things we can really do to limit the corruption of power.

Americans have to think more creatively about how we engineer the systems that govern us.

The reason we have so many awful people in charge is because we have had a failure imagination to think of ways that would help put better people there instead.

Consequences are supposed to matter and we are a society in general are losing sight of that. It’s been degraded and this takes us all the way back to Steve Bannon and his live stream of his arrest. 

Why did he do that? 

Because he doesn’t believe the consequences will affect him.

If we want better people we need more visible good people more models.

They need to telegraph that doing good and being good matter and that virtue matters.

All for now.

J C Evans


The Bulwark Podcast: “Brian Klaas: Why Are So Many Leaders Awful?”

Conversations with Charlie (11/15/2021)

Conversation 9:

Charlie’s Monday’s podcast had him talking with Tim Mak, Washington investigative reporter for NPR  (Nov. 15, 2021).

The main topic of discussion was Mak’s new book, Backfire, detailing the recent sudden downturn in the fortunes of the National Rifle Association or NRA.

But, before he got to that talk, Charlie had some thoughts to share, starting with the admission that whether we like it or not we are continuing to live in abnormal times.

He thinks this is part of why things still feel stuck in Washington DC and the country, because we, as a nation, are trying, those who are, to govern in a rather normal fashion that is perhaps no longer possible and potentially a mistake.

The illustration Charlie offers is a kind of split screen from Monday with on one hand President Joe Biden signing the Bipartisan Infrastructure deal, the normal, and on the other hand is Steve Bannon turning himself into the FBI in a manufactured circus centered around his brazen defiance of the rule of law.

Something is still not normal; it is perhaps needed for those still trying to govern and keep America together to realize this new reality and push back before Bannon and others like him flood the media room with shit.

Enter Tim Mak to discuss his book. Similar coverage has been coming out for a while now about the struggles plaguing the NRA. Season 2 of the podcast series Gangster Capitalism specifically investigated the early rumblings of the trouble coming for the NRA during the Trump years.

These should have been their high point, but being who and what they have become, the ascendancy of a Republican president actually means a decline in donations and fundraising. The fear of the Democrats and their gun legislation is not just there. And that is the problem: Money.

The NRA is about money and making money and lavish spending by those privileged at the top, like Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. 

This is not what they were founded to be, but this is what they have become.

The negative fallout of this shift is that for the first time in its 150-year history the NRA is enduring its worse crisis. 

Corruption and reports of it coming out are leading to infighting and revolts in the membership who are challenging the leadership of LaPierre and others on the Board of Directors.

The corruption and financial mismanagement has produced scandals that have opened the door, as of 2018 when the organization was almost unable to make payroll, to investigation by the New York City DA who is now seeking to dissolve the non-profit organization.

As Mak notes, and as it has been revealed by other reports, a lot of this decline and conflict centers around the unlikely character of Wayne LaPierre. In particular, many of the scandals focus on his lavish and extravagant spending, as well as that of his wife, of Wayne and other top board members. 

Those seeking to maintain the organization and right the ship are running into the reality that much of the NRA’s financials are, in fact, a black box. It is incredibly hard to tell what is going on inside and just how deep, thanks to the black box nature, the corruption runs.

Mak’s book ends up detailing much about Wayne LaPierre, including the weird events of his own wedding that he nearly ran away from but was kind of bullied into by his bride and now wife, as a figure in the organization.

The consensus is that he is terribly awkward, weird, weak willed, and a terrible hunter. His character, for Mak, is a crucial point for understanding the decline of the organization because LaPierre is NOT a strong leader, but a weak one, but more important and malleable one who people keep around to feed of the teat of the NRA’s money.

LaPierre is the useful idiot and stooge people want around so the corruption can keep on happening. He is perfect for that role.

For those, like former NRA President Oliver North (LaPierre’s friend) and other reformers, he is a signal of the mismanagement and a hinderance to reforms. This struggle is what broke out in 2019 when North wanted to have a financial audit of the NRA performed.

LaPierre and others pushed North out.

So, how did it get here?

Charlie asks Mak to give him a timeline and it is one that goes back to 1999 and the shooting at Columbine High School.



LaPierre and other members, on a conference call, openly mocked many of their “crazy” members who were so diehard as not to care about what had happened at Columbine, which was 10 miles from where the NRA’s convention was scheduled to meet.

The driving fear was that they did not, the leadership, want to appear weak.

They also showed a real contempt for members of their own organization, despite the fact that these were their most loyal donors and could be counted on to mobilize outrage to fundraise.

In the end, the NRA adopted a defiant stance when it came to tragic events involving guns and has maintained this ever since. Their mantra was to never show weakness.


2012 –

NRA response to the Sandy Hook School shooting, which the Mak pinpoints as a real turning point in the NRA decline. Charlie points out that this and the NRA response was  a real breaking point for him with the organization.

There was a short-lived effort, working with Sen. Joe Manchin (D) and Pat Toomey (R) to craft a bipartisan gun legislation act. NRA helped work in crafting it but after some internal struggles and tensions between their lobbying (pro-bill) and fundraising (anti-bill) arms, turned against the legislation.

The NRA turns harder into embracing those people they derided in the 1999 conference call, the fundraising arm is raking in the money after Sandy Hook because the organization turns of the fear rhetoric. It is not just about the 2nd Amendment and gun rights anymore, now it becomes about all rights; all freedoms of NRA members and admirers are under threat from the government. That is the new line.

The shift in 2012 was more away from directly about gun rights and legislation to a full embrace of culture wars.

Now, the term culture wars is rather vague and not always clear, but there have been running variations on them for decades if not centuries. It basically boils down to social and political struggles which try to decide the direction of a nation’s culture on a large swath of issues. James Davision Hunter wrote one of the definitive books on the issue 30 years ago, but it is now, just continuing to get worse and worse.

After 2012, the NRA waded into the culture wars. It positioned itself as the defense, the bulwark protecting gun owners from the government, but not just on guns but on all forms of freedoms they claimed were under attack.

This was the time and birth of NRA TV, which had shows taking on all kinds of issues, not just guns. This was itself a big expense that ultimately failed to capture real viewership and ended up being a money pit. 

2019 –

Now we return to the accusations of malfeasance that bubbled up in the NRA between LaPierre and North. Things start to get contentious. The NRA was bleeding membership and failed projects, like NRA TV, were pulling the company into bankruptcy proceedings.

The confrontation between Oliver North and Wayne LaPierre stemmed from North’s demand an audit. Wayne refused and this blew up at their own convention, North being pushed out.

At the center, Wayne LaPierre and those who use him got rich off corruption, those riches came from the NRA pushing fear.

What happens next is still to be determined.

For me, I want to linger on that idea of “pushing fear” as a major part of the NRAs message.

I cannot help but think about the Dana Loesch ad the NRA put up not long after came into office in 2017. Without necessarily realizing it yet, we apparently slipped into an Orwellian dystopia. The deeper reality is that this right here was the NRA had become. 

It is a fear machine. Those who are not with you are the enemy.

The only way forward is to fight. They say “clinched fist of truth” in the ad but this is coming from a gun organization who supposedly, used to stand for responsible gun safety and has morphed into something far more insidious instead. This ad is still up on NRA website and Facebook page.

I thought it was disturbing then, now, after what happened on Jan. 6 (and what might have happened) and continues to escalate, this kind of rhetoric is a timebomb. No one is going to defuse it I’m afraid either. 

All for now.

J C Evans


The Bulwark Podcast: “Tim Mak: Inside the Downfall of the NRA”

Talking with Charlie (11/12/2021)

Conversation 8:

Charlie’s Friday’s podcast had him talking with Tim Miller, writer and contributor at The Bulwark (Nov. 12, 2021).

There is some opening talk about Jonathan Karl’s new book Betrayal, out Tuesday, Nov. 16, and unlike many other postmortem books about Trump presidency and events of Jan. 6, appears to contain some real and significant information, new reporting.

Of course, like other reporters, Karl went to Mar-a-Lago to interview Trump and audio of this has come out. One snippet covered Trump’s response to the crowd calling for former Vice President Mike Pence to be “hung” as a traitor. Trump blew it off, as usual, as just people blowing off steam, that they were emotional. 

The downplaying of violence continues to grow in its alarm. Lots of people making excuses for it.

Charlie and Tim dug into the reality that no matter what Republicans want to tell themselves; Trump still controls their party. Some want to move on still but they cannot. The toxic triangle that Sarah Longwell has noted of what is going on within the Republican party, its voters, and its media lingers on.

Charlie and Tim made a point to highlight something Karl’s book examined and was highlighted in a piece he wrote for The Atlantic on John McEntee.


Donald Trump’s former body man, who was fired for his failure to pass a security clearance by former Chief of Staff John Kelly, who was then rehired by Trump to run the White House Office of Personnel.

As both Charlie and Tim point out, McEntee is exactly what is wrong with Trump being in power, how he uses power and to what tends. Having read the Karl Atlantic piece linked above, it is just an awful tell of who Trump is and how he does thing…if you needed something else to convince you he’s incapable of doing the job of President.

Charlie triggers Tim a bit, and Tim admits it, when they turn to former New Jersey Gov.. Chris Christie and his public posturing that seems to indicate that he will run for President again in 2024. 

Tim refers to a piece that he wrote recently about Christie in The Bulwark.

Charlie and Tim dig deep into the culpability that Tim feels toward Christie for making Trump possible as the GOP nominee in 2016. He pointedly notes that it was Christie’s endorsement of Trump after the New Hampshire primary, and that he was the first major figure outside Sen. Jeff Sessions to do so, that helped bring Trump into the mainstream of the GOP. His endorsement was a real departure point. It gave Trump a venire of legitimacy and let the establishment of the GOP feel that they could work with, control and guide Trump. It was a trap.

Christie opened the door to the monstrosity that came in Trump’s takeover of the GOP.

Tim Miller, who’s opinion and views I myself have come to admire, talks about his own take on how and what Democrats need to be doing to make people more aware of what they are doing for the people. Stop giving into that impulse that it will be self-evident and SELL it!

Tim notes that it is not that voters are dumb necessarily as they are often generally disengaged. He and I are in lockstep here. Most people do not spend their time paying attention to politics and what goes on in government. What they hear and get to them is usually is fed to them through the media they consume (which is its own mixed bag and filter).

Generally, most potential voters care about, the things that can really cut through the landscape of the noise of droning media are those things that effect one’s everyday life.

However, the problem is that what one does in government and bills and improving those lives is not, again, self-evident. That is the disconnect that Democrats, in particular, seem to suffer from. 

Just because Democratic politician does “A” for constituent “B” and hopes they will vote for “C” is bad logic.


Because it relies on the fallacy of self-evidence or self-evident truths.

SELF EVIDENT TRUTHS (appeal to beliefs): the arguing that a claim should be accepted based on evidence that is not presented, but is asserted to be well-known and obvious, when information is either not well known or is incorrect. 

This is a common fallacy that appears in a couple of places, but in this case here hinders the return of the perceived correct response because what is perceived is not correct. Persuasion is required. Communication is required.

It is the job of the Democrats, if they want that A+B=C formula to work, to draw the connections for their audience. Anyone who is worth their salt in persuasion should know better. It is your job to draw the connections. Going back to Aristotle, the speaker is the primary communicator to the audience. 

So, according to Tim Miller, and I agree, here is what the Democrats need to do, to mee their audience where THEY ARE.

– You need to address inflation.

– You need to find a way to address a raise and push back against this phony CRT propaganda coming off the right.

– You need to be eyes wide open to elements within the Democratic party that are dangerous to America, don’t be like the Republicans and simply ignore it or tolerate it, call it out and deal with it.

– You need to address and work on the issues currently circle around a rising crime.

Issues like inflation, crime, etc. are all “kitchen table” concerns that the voters will care about. 

Again, you have to walk and chew gum at the same time. Addressing these things does not mean you don’t pay attention to the big stuff like voter suppression and the January 6 insurrection, but if you want to continue to keep working on those big issues, to stay in power to do that, you have to win voters over by addressing those everyday issues with which they are dealing. Keep your allies on side.

Another thing that Tim points out is that Democrats need to tell voters what the Republicans are not doing, expose them for what they are in terms of being anti-democratic, subservient to Trump, and having no real ideas for how to make America better. You cannot rely on people to continue making that connection, if you don’t keep hammering away, the guilty Republicans will slip out and voters will forget. 

Connections are never as self-evident as one assumes. Don’t make an asshole out oneself by being the idiot who thinks that.

The current perception is leaning towards the idea that Democrats are spending money for the sake of spending money. It is not being discussed what it is being spent on or for whom. If Democrats don’t take this seriously address that flank they’re going to get slaughtered in 2022 midterms for certain. When they lose power, goodbye any ideas for voting reform or the Jan. 6 committee. 

Republicans have no real agenda, nothing, just like their 2020 platform. Nothing, just whatever Donald Trump wants, we’ll stand for that. They have become a party of obstructionists, who simply want power for power’s sake. Democrats need to hammer that at them and to the people as well.

Tim points out the obvious in that Democrats need to put a face on the Republican party, a negative one, and not just Donald Trump. Trump isn’t in office anymore. The right-wing uses AOC as the face of the Democratic Party all the time, even though she is not. It works in some places to scare middle America. 

Two can play at that game and the Republicans have plenty of elected crazies. Pick one.

Marjorie Taylor Greene

Paul Gosar

Madison Cawthorne

Lauren Boebert

These are just a few, there are more to pick from.

It is worth the time for the Democrats to recognize the fight they are in and the battlefield they need to fight on. It would be a solid strategy to borrow from the populace playbook that people like JD Vance and others are using. Use it though for good, take back the populist label and use it to prove that you want to actually improve lives, do good things for people of all races, for all Americans, and not be like many who use those tactics to  sucker people into voting against their interests.

Republicans aren’t offering anything for culture war. 


Because they have nothing else and don’t wanna do anything else. 

Sen. Ted Cruz is perhaps the pinnacle of this strategy.

The Democratic mindset needs to be that the field is not set, there are not just simply your voters in their voters, but there is a large swath, sometimes marginal in certain places, of swing voters. 

Democrats need to be doing more to win them over and making their coalition larger more powerful in turn.

Where to start?

It starts with a clear message of letting the voters know that you were on their side, all of them, and this is where President Joe Biden can really serve as an effective model to project that because that’s what he wants to do. 

Find ways to get him out there pushing that let him be the spearhead the tip of the spear that you can then follow behind.

Otherwise, Nov. 2022 is going to be a bloodbath.

All for now.

J C Evans


The Bulwark Podcast: “Tim Miller: Why Christ Christie Triggers Me”

Talking with Charlie (11/11/2021)

Conversation 7:

Charlie’s Thursday podcast had him talking with Donald Moynihan, political science professor at Georgetown University (Nov. 11, 2021).

Charlie led the podcast with a question I have thought about for at least a decade and seems keep getting worse:

Are we really at the moment in American politics? 

To me, this is not a new question but is one that has been getting harder and harder in past through administrations it seems. It is worth bringing it up again, because, to paraphrase Charlie here, there is something not normal going on that we, as a nation, really need to slow down and look at it closer. 

Even worse is that the nature of politics, on a national level is becoming so divisive and embedded with extreme hints of violence against decenters, especially on the right.

For example, there is growing move for internal retaliation against those who break with the party on things.  The 13 House Republicans who decided to vote with the Democrats on the bipartisan infrastructure deal last Friday are being viewed by some as traitors. Why?

There were 6 Democrats, who voted in protest against the bill out of fear that the Build Back Better bill they support will not be taken up. They are Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Jamaal Bowman, and Cori Bush. 

No one is avidly calling them traitors on the left for the most part. With them, generally, it’s just a matter of disappointment but with the Republicans it is exponentially more extreme.

The vitriol and hate that is being encouraged and flooded in the direction of those 13 is unsettling and disturbing to anyone who might take note and believe that this is not how things should be done in politics. The New York Timesdiscusses these threats, and the Washington Post had an article on it, in particular the death threats that GOP Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan was receiving.

On the podcast, Charlie plays an excerpt, released to NBC News by Rep. Upton’s office of one of the death threats where the caller claims to seek to kill him and his whole family.

What is going on?

Even more intriguing, and both Charlie has pointed this out and I have written about this, is that these 13 House members are now being targeted for retribution, but no one seems to acknowledge that 19 GOP Senators voted for this bill in the Senate back in August of this year.

What makes the actions of the 13 in the House so egregious? It is really quite unclear to me as it is to many, but it may have to do with the idea that these 13 could have helped really “sink” the whole bill and therefore do damage to President Biden’s agenda. Maybe.

What remains disturbing is the threats, both from other members of Congress, elements in the conservative media, and the voters. These things are feeding each other. Sarah Longwell, publisher and contributor at The Bulwark, on a podcast that came out Friday, Nov. 12, views these three contributors (politicians, conservative media, and voters) as locked in a toxic triangle of doom. They feed off each other and drive a spiral that leads the national party downward into dark places.

A question to mediate on and think about going forward is this: If  we tolerate, encourage, and allow this kind of negativity, this kind of pseudo (and possibly real) violent rhetoric and action to permeate our lives and world, are we sure America is a Christian nation anymore? 

Something to deeply reflect on because if this is our direction, we are not. 

Charlie’s conversation to this point really puts the emphasis, one I agree with, that much of our political discourse these days among other things is really dialed up to maximum. There is a ominous, growing threat of political violence that is becoming hard to ignore anymore, some might still say it is hyperbolic, but just look at it clearly and the picture is one that is becoming bleaker as it progresses.


Because there is NO one there to ratchet it back, tamp it down.

There are not nearly enough people trying to dial things back. Not the Republican party or its leadership, not the conservative media, or the voters,  especially not the real diehard MAGA fans out there. They don’t see the consequences of this threat of political violence on the naïve end of things and on the other side many of them may actually want it to happen. Instead, it is filtered into an information network that is breaths fury and grievance and hate and mistrust and suspicion the vast majority of the time.

Right wing media pressures right wing politicians who are pressured by voters who are also pressured by right wing media. There are few or no dissenting voices inside the system anymore, at least not on a national level, it is a near monolith. It creates an incentive structure for many, mainly the national politicians, to stoke the fires of destruction than do anything to try and calm them down.

For Charlie, a microcosm of all of this is taking place where he lives and works, Wisconsin. That thing is the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, who faces charges of murder after killing two protestors in Kenosha, Wisconsin during unrest that became violent. Whether Rittenhouse is found guilty or acquitted, the big mistake noted by Charlie is that there are those who aim to make him into a hero.

Kyle Rittenhouse, like Ashli Babbitt is for those who support Trump and the Big Lie that the election was stolen and who died during the events of Jan. 6, 2021, is a victim and a tragedy.

Neither he nor Babbitt are martyrs or heroes, they are victims of a culture and system that allowed them to become twisted and manipulated.

Those who try to lift them up like martyrs are really lifting up a celebration of violence. 

In the case of Ashli Abbitt, it is a celebration of fanaticism and willingness to do whatever they think they need to do regardless of people trying to stop them. That is how she was killed, I’ve seen the video (not edited like some who defend her), by failing to see the consequences of her actions, failing to stop when warned.

With Kyle Rittenhouse the celebration of violence comes from the fetishization of guns and gun culture in this nation that has pushed forward the acceptance of vigilantism. 

Charlie cuts right to the point when he says that if this kid, Kyle Rittenhouse, is transformed into a role model, a hero what does that say for a future? 

It will tell others who come after him that what he did was right. You should do it to, and that is something that should terrify us. 

Why? What if I agree with Kyle’s reasoning and motivation?

Because the person he inspires may decide you or someone you know is the threat worth pursuing and killing. It is a real slippery slope that one should not ignore. To tread that path is to almost give up on the rule of law in general.

Charlie and Donald’s conversation does move to discussions of campus free speech and free speech in general, but I want to end this post by talking about the uncomfortable threat Donald Trump raises if he returns to power.

There is a gentlemen by the name of John McEntee.

What a character right?

Don’t think he’s a sign of something awful, read more about him yourself.

It’s worth examining because this example of McEntee is a warning of what might come if Trump returns to office. He will not appoint the best but only those people who are singularly loyal to him and very likely unqualified for their positions to make decisions that will undermine our government at every turn. Why? Simple, out of blind loyalty to one man and one man only: Donald Trump. 

Welcome to the New North Korea.

Next time Trump and his minions will know where to go and what to do to cause real damage unlike last time.

To add one more thing, it is worth giving some thought to the ways, not unlike at other times and in my mind particularly the 1950s, the ways that the banning of books is growing again. We are also in the middle of a metaphorical and almost literal attempt to remove or ban books from schools. 

It is, like before, that those things and that knowledge that makes people feel uncomfortable that is targeted most.

For this era, what is being targeted now are books that tend to deal with race and racial issues, ones written by minority authors, and those dealing with issues surrounding LGBTQ discussion and content. 

What’s being targeted tells us about the movement of the people who are opposing these books. 

In it is a certain anti-CRT backlash, but it goes further to become more of an educational gag order, one example of this can be found in Wichita, Kansas among many more.

The illiberal attacks in our society do not simply come from the right, but also from the left.. Either way, the loser is all of us. 

Though the extremism and censorship exists on both sides, the weighing of it tends to reveal that the greater threat comes from the right at this time, because like the left but because the right has more footholds in local and state governments, their censorship has the backing of the state.

This is playing out right now in Florida, where the University of Florida acting on behalf of the state, is forbidding it’s professors from testifying against Ron DeSantis  and state government attempts at possible voter suppression. State sanctioned censorship, very likely. 

Where are the defenders of absolute free speech on the right in regard to this?

Donald Moynihan feels that it is unfortunate that we live in a day and age, and this is something that affects perceptions on a political scale towards institutions like universities, that anecdotes and stories have come to be perceived as real data.

The reality is, as Donald points out, that what people don’t understand from the outside looking in, is that university campuses are places designed and full of people who are disagreeing with each other. 

That’s good, that’s what supposed to happen. 

However, when it makes its way out into the mainstream of our polarized culture it ends up being turning into a situation. Maybe you invited a controversial speaker, a conservative, and there is a campus backlash, so the university cancels. Oh no! Scandal. Censorship! Never mind that someone else may reinvite him to come and speak, it is the first story that is juicier. All of it ultimately is harmful to the mission of universities to be institutions of learning and idea. 

The true sign of our polarization problem is really exposed, as Charlie points out, in the hypocrisy that exists when these people who profess academic free-speech and non-censorship of ideas will simply abandon the principle if the situation is somehow reversed. 


Yes, but in our information age today, perhaps that was inevitable.

All for now.

J C Evans


The Bulwark Podcast: “Donald Moynihan: Can We Still Govern”